Iqba Survé. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/WESSEL OOSTHIUZEN
Iqba Survé. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/WESSEL OOSTHIUZEN

Remember the old saying "You may as well be caught for a sheep as a lamb"?

I mean, if you are going to make stuff up, then why not go the whole hog and be simply outrageous?

In 1726, a young Englishwoman named Mary Toft claimed to have given birth to baby rabbits. This event followed a miscarriage, which in turn had been the result, she said, of chasing a rabbit while out in the fields and being overcome "with longing" for the rabbit. (History is coy on some of the details.)

As it turned out, Mrs Toft had apparently persuaded her husband to stash baby rabbits under the bedclothes. She then claimed to the village health-care practitioner that she had given birth to them.

By the time the game was up, it was too late for a few otherwise respectable medical careers that had been scorched like California after a wildfire.

Going one better, in 2004 a religious cult called the Raelians — whose leader, Rael (yip), claimed to be descended from extraterrestrials — said their scientists had cloned a baby girl. Imagine the brouhaha that caused in the Bible Belt. The ruse was rumbled when, challenged to produce evidence either of the experiments or, better yet, the girl herself, the cultists could do neither.

The best of them all, however, was Philadelphia "engineer" Charles Redheffer’s perpetual motion machine, which, its inventor claimed, was pretty much what it purported to be: a machine in perpetual motion. Trouble was, after another eagle-eyed engineer spotted a wobble in the apparatus, the perpetual motion turned out to be provided by an old man stashed in the attic who was discovered, the story goes, turning the crank with one hand while eating bread with the other.

Compared with all these tales, the story of the Tembisa 10 and the documentary that is supposed to explain the event of the decuplets are just amateur hour. We won’t be waiting with bated breath for the details.

Meanwhile, to keep us busy, we have the riddles of perpetual motion, unicorns. UFOs, and the name of the shooter on the grassy knoll .... Anyone? Anyone?

subscribe

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.