Synchronicity, luck and chance .
The Lincoln/Kennedy List of Coincidences is a piece of American folklore of unknown origin. The list appeared in the mainstream American press in 1964, in the wake of the 1963 Kennedy Assassination, having appeared prior to that in the G.O.P. Congressional Committee Newsletter., Martin Gardner debunked much of the list in an article in Scientific American, later reprinted in his book, The Magic Numbers of Dr. Matrix. Gardner's version of the list contained 16 items; many subsequent versions have circulated having much longer lists. The list is still in circulation today, having endured in the popular imagination for over 40 years. A more recent debunking of the list is available online.
In 1992, the Skeptical Inquirer ran a "Spooky Presidential Coincidences Contest". One winner found a series of sixteen similar coincidences between Kennedy and former Mexican President Álvaro Obregón, while the other came up with similar lists for twenty-one pairs of US Presidents.
An example of a shorter version of the list is presented here for illustration. Much of the list has been debunked, and some entries are outright falsehoods. Some urban folklorists have postulated that the list provided a way for people to make sense of two tragic events in American history by seeking out patterns. However, as Gardner and others have pointed out, it is relatively easy to find seemingly meaningful patterns relating any two people or events, but such patterns often do not stand up to rigorous scrutiny.
Some of the items above are true, such as the year in which Kennedy and Lincoln were each elected President, but this is not so unusual given that Presidential elections are held only every four years, and both started their political careers 100 years apart. Other items twist the truth. John Wilkes Booth was shot by a trooper during efforts to capture him - hardly an assassination. Some of the items are simply untrue; there is no record to show that Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy; Lincoln's secretaries were John Hay and John G. Nicolay. The version cited at Snopes.com also concludes with an untrue joke item: "A month before Lincoln was assassinated he was in Monroe, Maryland; a month before Kennedy was assassinated he was in Marilyn Monroe." In fact, Marilyn Monroe died more than a year before Kennedy was killed.
LIST OF 15 OF THE MOST INCREDIBLE COINCIDENCES.
Life is full of coincidences, some very minor, but occasionally - extraordinary. This is a list of 15 of the most incredible, unbelievable coincidences.
15. Childhood Book
While American novelist Anne Parrish was browsing bookstores in Paris in the 1920s, she came upon a book that was one of her childhood favorites - Jack Frost and Other Stories. She picked up the old book and showed it to her husband, telling him of the book she fondly remembered as a child. Her husband took the book, opened it, and on the flyleaf found the inscription: “Anne Parrish, 209 N. Weber Street, Colorado Springs.” It was Anne’s very own book.
14. Poker Luck
In 1858, Robert Fallon was shot dead, an act of vengeance by those with whom he was playing poker. Fallon, they claimed, had won the $600 pot through cheating. With Fallon’s seat empty and none of the other players willing to take the now unlucky $600, they found a new player to take Fallon’s place and staked him with the dead man’s $600. By the time the police had arrived to investigate the killing, the new player had turned the $600 into $2,200 in winnings. The police demanded the original $600 to pass on to Fallon’s next of kin - only to discover that the new player turned out to be Fallon’s son, who had not seen his father in seven years!
13. Twin Deaths
In 2002, Seventy-year-old twin brothers died within hours of one another after separate accidents on the same road in northern Finland. The first of the twins died when he was hit by a lorry while riding his bike in Raahe, 600 kilometres north of the capital, Helsinki. He died just 1.5km from the spot where his brother was killed. “This is simply a historic coincidence. Although the road is a busy one, accidents don’t occur every day,” police officer Marja-Leena Huhtala told Reuters. “It made my hair stand on end when I heard the two were brothers, and identical twins at that. It came to mind that perhaps someone from upstairs had a say in this,” she said.
12. Poe Coincidence
In the 19th century, the famous horror writer, Egdar Allan Poe, wrote a book called ‘The narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym’. It was about four survivors of a shipwreck who were 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, foundered, 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 Richard Parker.
11. Royal Coincidence
In Monza, Italy, King Umberto I, went to a small restaurant for dinner, accompanied by his aide-de-camp, General Emilio Ponzia- Vaglia. When the owner took King Umberto’s order, the King noticed that he and the restaurant owner were virtual doubles, in face and in build. Both men began discussing the striking resemblance between each other and found many more similarities.
1. Both men were born on the same day, of the same year, (March 14th, 1844).
2. Both men had been born in the same town.
3. Both men married a woman with same name, Margherita.
4. The restaurateur opened his restaurant on the same day that King Umberto was crowned King of Italy.
5. On the 29th July 1900, King Umberto was informed that the restaurateur had died that day in a mysterious shooting accident, and as he expressed his regret, an anarchist in the crowd then assassinated him.
10. Falling Baby
In 1930s Detroit, a man named Joseph Figlock was to become an amazing figure in a young (and, apparently, incredibly careless) mother’s life. As Figlock was walking down the street, the mother’s baby fell from a high window onto Figlock. The baby’s fall was broken and Figlock and the baby were unharmed. A year later, the selfsame baby fell from the selfsame window, again falling onto Mr. Figlock as he was passing beneath. Once again, both of them survived the event.
9. Mystery Monk
In 19th century Austria, a near-famous painter named Joseph Aigner attempted suicide on several occasions. During his first attempt to hang himself at the age of 18, a mysterious Capuchin monk interrupted Aigner. And again at age 22, the very same monk prevented him from hanging himself. Eight years later, he was sentenced to the gallows for his political activities. But again, his life was saved by the intervention of the same monk. At age 68, Joseph Aigner finally succeeded in suicide, using a pistol to shoot himself. Not surprisingly, the very same Capuchin monk - a man whose name Aigner never even knew, conducted his funeral ceremony.
8. Photographic Coincidence
A German mother who photographed her infant son in 1914 left the film to be developed at a store in Strasbourg. In those days some film plates were sold individually. World War I broke out and unable to return to Strasbourg, the woman gave up the picture for lost. Two years later she bought a film plate in Frankfurt, over 100 miles away, to take a picture of her newborn daughter. When developed the film turned out to be a double exposure, with the picture of her daughter superimposed on the earlier picture of her son. Through some incredible twist of fate, her original film, never developed, had been mislabeled as unused, and had eventually been resold to her.
7. Book Find
In 1973, actor Anthony Hopkins agreed to appear in “The Girl From Petrovka”, based on a novel by George Feifer. Unable to find a copy of the book anywhere in London, Hopkins was surprised to discover one lying on a bench in a train station. It turned out to be George Feifer’s own annotated (personal) copy, which Feifer had lent to a friend, and which had been stolen from his friend’s car.
The twin brothers, Jim Lewis and Jim Springer, were separated at birth, adopted by different families. Unknown to each other, both families named the boys James. Both James grew up not knowing of the other, yet both sought law-enforcement training both had abilities in mechanical drawing and carpentry, and each had married women named Linda. Both had sons, one of who was named James Alan and the other named James Allan. The twin brothers also divorced their wives and married other women - both named Betty. And they both owned dogs which they named Toy.
5. Revenge Killing
In 1883, Henry Ziegland broke off a relationship with his girlfriend who, out of distress, committed suicide. The girl’s enraged brother hunted down Ziegland and shot him. Believing he had killed Ziegland, the brother then took his own life. In fact, however, Ziegland had not been killed. The bullet had only grazed his face, lodging into a tree. It was a narrow escape. Years later, Ziegland decided to cut down the same tree, which still had the bullet in it. The huge tree seemed so formidable that he decided to blow it up with dynamite. The explosion propelled the bullet into Ziegland’s head, killing him.
4. Golden Scarab
From The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche: “A young woman I was treating had, at a critical moment, a dream in which she was given a golden scarab. While she was telling me this dream I sat with my back to the closed window. Suddenly I heard a noise behind me, like a gentle tapping. I turned round and saw a flying insect knocking against the windowpane from outside. I opened the window and caught the creature in the air as it flew in. It was the nearest analogy to the golden scarab that one finds in our latitudes, a scarabaeid beetle, the common rose-chafer (Cetonia aurata) which contrary to its usual habits had evidently felt an urge to get into a dark room at this particular moment. I must admit that nothing like it ever happened to me before or since, and that the dream of the patient has remained unique in my experience.” - Carl Jung
In 1975, while riding a moped in Bermuda, a man was accidentally struck and killed by a taxi. One year later, this man’s brother was killed in the very same way. In fact, he was riding the very same moped. And to stretch the odds even further, the very same taxi driven by the same driver - and even carrying the very same passenger struck him!
2. Hotel Discovery
In 1953, television reporter Irv Kupcinet was in London to cover the coronation of Ellizabeth II. In one of the drawers in his room at the Savoy he found some items that, by their identification, belonged to a man named Harry Hannin. Coincidentally, Harry Hannin - a basketball star with the famed Harlem Globetrotters - was a good friend of Kupcinet’s. But the story has yet another twist. Just two days later, and before he could tell Hannin of his lucky discovery, Kupcinet received a letter from Hannin. In the letter, Hannin told Kucinet that while staying at the Hotel Meurice in Paris, he found in a drawer a tie - with Kupcinet’s name on it.
1. Historical Coincidence
The lives of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two of America’s founders. Jefferson crafted the Declaration of Independence, showing drafts of it to Adams, who (with Benjamin Franklin) helped to edit and hone it. The Continental Congress approved the document on July 4, 1776. Surprisingly, both Jefferson and Adams died on the same day, July 4, 1826 - exactly 50 years from the signing of the Declaration of Independence.