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"When a physician walks behind the coffin of his patient, indeed the cause sometimes follows the effect."

Voltaire oder Robert Koch oder Marcus Tullius Cicero (allegedly)

This joke from the 19th century has been attributed to the philosopher Voltaire in the digitized texts (always without reference to the source) since 1994 and to the Nobel Prize winner for medicine Robert Koch since 2004.

In 1896, this joke appears in the following version in a k.u.k. Provincial newspaper in the section "Humor of the week" :

"An exception.

A professor proclaims from the chair:
'Never, therefore, can cause follow effect, but vice versa --'

'Pardon me, Professor, I know an exception.'


'Yes, you do, Professor. For example, when a doctor accompanies the corpse of a patient to the churchyard, the cause follows the effect.'"

Anonymous: Monday Review from Bohemia, November 9, 1896, Column: Humor of the Week, p. 2 (link).

"Wenn ein Arzt hinter dem Sarg seines Patienten geht, so folgt manchmal tatsächlich die Ursache der Wirkung."

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