What are some crazy coincidences throughout history?
March 16, 2010 11:29 PM   Subscribe

So this question was deleted for being chatfilter (and rightfully so), but I really enjoyed the examples on the wikipedia page he linked in his question. What are some more examples of incredible coincidences throughout history?

I've seen this question, but that's not really what I'm looking for. This is a little more in line with my interest. I've already heard about the men Green, Berry, and Hill who were hanged together on Greenberry Hill, the brothers killed years apart by the same taxi driver, the identical twins, separated at birth, who married men with the same name, got the same kind of dog, and named their kids the same thing. I also remember something about a man born on the same day as a king, but the details are fuzzy (I think he owned a restaurant or something). I've also seen a list of such coincidences floating around on several different websites (the above are all mentioned on it), so I think I've probably heard some of the more notorious examples. What I'm looking for are somewhat obscure stories that are so unbelievable they seem made up (or even just a little bit weird). What are the craziest coincidences out there?

I hope that my asking this is ok. I don't think that I've asked a chatfilter-y question here, but if the mods are uncomfortable with it go ahead and axe it.

Also, funnily enough, someone asked basically the exact same question as the recently deleted one in 2004, admitted in the first line that it was chatfilter, and it stood. OMG COINCIDENCE!!1!
posted by Captain Cardanthian! to Grab Bag (14 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think you'd be interested in the Stochasticity episode of Radiolab.
posted by piedmont at 11:37 PM on March 16, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not exactly what you're looking for, but I think you'd enjoy the opening scene of the film Magnolia.
posted by reductiondesign at 11:57 PM on March 16, 2010


This the outcome of this FPP is similar to the 'This' question you linked to.
posted by doost at 12:19 AM on March 17, 2010


The summer before I began college, I worked for a man named "Howdy" Lastname. Three months later, when I began college, I was given an on-campus job, working for a man named "Doody" (Same) Lastname. The coincidence of working for both Howdy and Doody Lastname in a three month span still amazes me.
posted by unclejeffy at 6:08 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


You'd enjoy this. The king/restaurant owner story is #19.
posted by relucent at 6:23 AM on March 17, 2010


There are some coincidences between the lives and assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy.

Here's a pro-coincidence list.

Snopes and Wikipedia have a more skeptical take on the matter.
posted by marsha56 at 6:34 AM on March 17, 2010


The (arguably) last emperor of the western Roman Empire was named Romulus Augustulus, so he had the names of both the mythical founder of Rome and its first emperor.

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posted by General Tonic at 6:47 AM on March 17, 2010


Timothy Dexter (previously on the blue) amassed a fortune through a series of seemingly boneheaded trades that wouldn't ordinarily have worked out, but he got lucky every time.

You might also be interested the case of the two Will Wests - convicts at Leavenworth who not only shared a name, but looked nearly identical and had matching Bertillon measurements. Bertillonage was a widely-used method of identifying people before fingerprinting; the two Wests did have different fingerprints.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:34 AM on March 17, 2010


When Gone with the Wind premiered in Atlanta in 1939, its producers wanted to recreate some scenes from the film, so they enlisted a local all-black boys choir to perform, dressed up as slaves, for the crowd. You can see a photo of the kids dressed as slaves in the Margaret Mitchell House, and if you do, you'll notice that one little boy's face is circled.

Who was he? 10-year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. (And now you know THE REST of the story...)
posted by sallybrown at 7:51 AM on March 17, 2010


At the first battle of Bull Run (Manassas) in 1861, Mr. Henry was upset because the battle had been fought literally in his front yard. A stray shell had killed an elderly relative, so he moved his family further south in Virginia to escape the war. He ended up in Appomattox, where Lee surrendered to Grant in 1865. In Henry's living room.
posted by pentagoet at 8:04 AM on March 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I think I read in The Making of the Atomic Bomb about a small number of people who were in Hiroshima for the bombing and were evacuated to Nagasaki to be bombed a second time.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:59 AM on March 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


You would probably enjoy the TV show Connections with James Burke, which does fun stuff like this with the history of science. Youtube link, but you can also find the shows elsewhere, and there's an associated book.
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:43 PM on March 17, 2010


The 1900 Battle of Spion Kop in the Second Boer War was witnessed by Winston Churchill (as a war correspondent) Mohatma Gandhi (as a stretcher bearer) & Gen. Louis Botha, who would go on to become South Africa's first Prime Minister. We know for sure that Churchill & Botha met, as Churchill was on a train that was captured by Botha.
posted by scalefree at 8:51 PM on March 17, 2010


a small one just happened here!
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:01 AM on March 18, 2010


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