Let's excuse BF's lack of historical acumen at not mentioning provenance.
My problem is that BF takes for granted that these "monsters" did not exist. Really?
Take a look at this (some amongst these "freaks" belong in a prominent list! (via the human marvels)*
Josephine Clofullia (the so-called "bearded lady of Geneva")
It boils down to a distorted representation of the past, or better, an blidspot for our present. It happens by design, i.e., our "present" antiseptic idea of "normality."
The Swiss manuscript presents a rational treatment of the issue,
The title reads "Chronicle of Omens and Portents from the beginning of the world up to these our present times," (Switzerland, 1557). The Chronicon is dramatic & naive in its quasi-scientific approach. We are looking at early anthropology! The shift in perception of how to understand these human types changes from 16th century "portents" to 19th century "freaks" (i.e, we find them as curiosities in the circuses of Europe and America). Today's political correctness works in a perverse way: nowadays we don't call these people "freaks" (in fact, we don't have a word for them). And yet, we think that 16th century illustrators were, as Buzzfeed calls them, "fucked up".
*Thanks to J. Tithonus Pednaud's The Human Marvels, a formidable research/site!