Mere Coincidence or Unexplained Phenomena?
It is no great wonder if in long process of time, while fortune takes her course hither and thither, numerous coincidences should spontaneously occur.— Plutarch.
What is Coincidence?
The World Book Dictionary defines "Coincidence" as: "The chance occurrence of two things at the same time or place in such a way as to seem remarkable or fitting".
Each of us has experienced many events during the normal course of our lives which, although seemingly quite remarkable, can simply be put down to 'mere coincidence'. For instance, maybe you've been thinking of a friend or relative whom you haven't seen for years. Suddenly the telephone rings. "Hello John, how have you been after all this time? It's Nikki here. I'll be in town tomorrow. How about catching up for lunch?"
There have however been literally thousands of occurrences documented throughout history which seem to stretch the limits of 'mere coincidence' to the point of 'unexplained phenomena'. Below is just a few of these cases.
Dead Man's Hand
During a poker game at the Bella Union Saloon in San Francisco in 1858, Robert Fallon of Northumberland, England was accused of cheating and shot dead. As money won by cheating was considered unlucky, the other players called in the first passerby to take the dead man's place, confident that they would soon win the money (some $600) back.
By the time they arrived, the police found that the new player had increased the original $600 to $2,200. When they asked for the money so they could pass it onto the dead man's next of kin, the young stranger proved that he was in fact Fallon's son, who had not seen his father for seven years.
In the 1838, the famous American writer, Edgar Allan Poe, wrote his only complete novel called ‘The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym’. It relates to the tale of the young Pym who stows away on a whaling ship called the Grampus. In one misadventure the ship is wrecked and four survivors including Pym were stranded in an open boat for many days before they decided to kill and eat the cabin boy whose name was Richard Parker.
Some years later, in 1884, the yawl, Mignonette, floundered, with only four survivors, who were in an open boat for many days. Eventually the three senior members of the crew, killed and ate the cabin boy. The name of the cabin boy was by 'coincidence 'Richard Parker'.
King Louis XVI
As a young child King Louis XVI of France was warned by an astrologer to beware the 21st day of every month. He was so concerned by this advice that thereafter he refused to undertake any important business on that day.
- 21 June, 1791: Louis and Marie Antoinette are arrested at Varennes while attempting to escape the Revolution.
- 21 September, 1792: France becomes a republic and abolishes the institution of royalty.
- 21 January, 1793: Louis XVI is beheaded.
King Umberto I of Italy
On July 28, 1900, King Umberto I of Italy arrived in Monza to make presentations at an athletic event. That night, while dining at a small restaurant, the King was surprised to notice that the owner was virtually his double in looks. He remarked on this fact to the other man and as they talked an extraordinary series of coincidences emerged:
- Both men were born on March 14, 1844, in the same town, and each was named Umberto.
- They both married on April 22, 1868, each to a woman named Magherita.
- Both named their sons Vittorio.
- On the day of the King's coronation, the other Umberto opened his restaurant.
The day after the restaurant meeting the King sought his double out once again, only to be informed that the man had died that morning in a shooting incident. Suddenly! three shots rang out and the King fell down dead.
Death Of Two Presidents (Lincoln vs Kennedy)
Two of the most famous deaths in history, the assassinations of United States Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F Kennedy have surprising parallels which have already been well documented, but which have to be included in any essay on coincidence vs unexplained phenomena.
- Lincoln was elected President in 1860. Kennedy was elected 100 years later in 1960.
- Both men were assassinated on a Friday.
- Both men were shot through the back of the head.
- Lincoln was killed in Ford's Theatre. Kennedy was killed while riding in a Ford Lincoln convertible.
- Both men were replace by Vice-presidents named Johnson.
- Andrew Johnson was born in 1808, and Lyndon Johnson 100 years later in 1908.
- John Wilkes Booth was born in 1839, and Lee Harvey Oswald was born in 1939, 100 years later.
- Both assassins were murdered before being brought to trial.
- Booth shot Lincoln in a theatre and fled to a barn. Oswald shot Kennedy from a warehouse and fled to a theatre.
- LINCOLN and KENNEDY each has seven letters.
- ANDREW JOHNSON and LYNDON JOHNSON each have 13 letters.
- JOHN WILKES BOOTH and LEE HARVEY OSWALD each have 15 letters.
Each similarity can be dismissed as coincidental in its own right, but the fact that there are so many parallels makes one question whether there is not some stronger force involved.
There have been a number of conspiracy theories put forward concerning both assassinations over the years, in particular that there was a second gunman involved in the Kennedy shooting
There were known to be co-conspirators involved in Lincoln's assassination ("Lewis Powell (or Paine/Payne) attempted to assassinate Secretary of State William Seward, but only managed to injure him. David Herold accompanied Powell. However, Herold fled before the deed was finished. At the same time, George Atzerodt was supposed to have killed Vice President Andrew Johnson. Atzerodt did not go through with the assassination.")
This being the case and considering the other parallels regarding the two assassinations, perhaps any investigations into co-conspirators in the Kennedy murder should concentrate on suspects with the same amount of letters as Powell, Herold and Atzerodt, birthdates exactly 100 years later than theirs etc..
The 20-Year Cycle Of Fate
Eight United States Presidents have died in office (either through illness or assassination). Did you know that seven of these men were elected at precisely 20 year intervals.
The seven were:
- William Harrison (elected 1840)
- Abraham Lincoln (elected 1860)
- James Garfield (elected 1880)
- William McKinley (elected 1900-second term)
- Warren Harding (elected 1920)
- Franklin Roosevelt (elected 1940-third term)
- John F. Kennedy (elected 1960)
The eighth was Zachary Taylor, who was elected in 1848 and died in office in 1850.
One Good Turn?
Allan Falby, a motorcycle policeman with the El Paso County Highway Patrol in the 1930s was involved in a collision with a speeding truck. He had a severed artery in his leg and was slowly bleeding to death when a passerby, named Alfred Smith, stopped to offer assistance. Smith tied a tourniquet around the bleeding leg and Officer Falby survived. It took several months but he fully recovered and was able to resume his duties.
Five years later, Officer Falby arrived at the scene of another accident in the same area. A car had crashed into a tree and the driver was bleeding profusely from a severed artery in the right leg. Before the ambulance arrived Falby was able to tie off the leg and save the man’s life. Only then did he recognise that the victim was his own savior of five years before – Alfred Smith.
Falby took the eerie coincidence in his stride, quipping, "it all goes to prove," he said, "that one good tourniquet deserves another."
Menai Strait Mystery
Perhaps one of the strangest coincidences of them all spans a period of nearly 200 years and involved three ships that sank off the coast of Wales, in the Menai Strait .
- The first vessel sank on December 5th,1664, and of its 81 passengers, only one survived. His name was Hugh Williams.
- On December 5th, 1785, 121 years later, another ship sank in the Menai Strait, and again, all of the passengers drowned except one – named Hugh Williams.
Two ships sinking in the same area on the same day of the same month is certainly some coincidence, but when each of them have only one survivor of the same name, it gets very eerie indeed. But the story does not end there.
- On December 5th, 1860, a small vessel with 25 passengers on board, sank in the Menai Strait, off Wales. Again there was only one survivor – and once again his name was... Hugh Williams.
Believe it or not!
In 1979, the German magazine called 'Das Besteran', ran a literary competition. Readers were asked to submit unusual stories, but they had to be based on true incidents. Walter Kellner of Munich was judged the winner and had his story published . He wrote about a situation when he was flying a Cessna 421 between Sardinia and Sicily. The plane developed engine trouble at sea and crash landed into the water. Kellner floated in an emergency dinghy some time before being rescued.
This story was read by an Austrian, also named Walter Kellner, who claimed that the German Walter Kellner had plagiarized the story. The Austrian Kellner said that he had flown a Cessna 421 over the same sea, experienced engine trouble and was forced to land in the plane in Sardinia. The magazine had both stories investigated, and found both to be true. They were nearly identical except for a slightly different ending.
Do you consider the events in this hub to be.....
More Questions Than Answers.
In modern times science has made great progress in the discovery of vaccines for previously incurable diseases, in creating amazing new inventions to aid mankind, and in solving many previously unanswerable problems. However, no matter how they try scientists remain at a loss to provide a feasible explanation for the baffling phenomenon known as "coincidence".
For more of the unexplained check out my other hub.
- More Amazing Coincidences
History is full of amazing coincidences and unexplained phenomena. Here are just a few occurrences that have been documented that defy rational explanation.