5 Creepy Coincidences You Won't Believe Actually Happened
The rational part of our brain tells us that there is nothing weird about coincidences; when you have all of human history to work with, you're going to find some spooky "What are the odds?" situations. But as we've mentioned before, it doesn't change the fact that some of these are truly and deeply weird. Like ...
The Curse of the Dragon
Martial-arts legend and enemy-to-shirts-everywhere Bruce Lee might now be as famous for his "cursed" family as he was for punching people while screaming. We've written before about how his final movie coincidentally predicted the freak accident that would kill his own son Brandon two decades later. To recap: Lee's character in the movie is killed when a real gun is substituted for a prop gun, causing him to get shot for real. Lee's son would later be killed when a prop gun misfired on the set of The Crow -- not exactly a common cause of death in the modern world. But the more you learn about the Lee "curse," the freakier it gets.
His constant mirror-breaking wasn't doing his family any favors either.
First, Bruce Lee was born on November 27, 1940 during the Year and the Hour of the Dragon. This might explain why Bruce's full Chinese name translates to "Lee's Little Dragon"; however, his parents always insisted on calling him Sai Fon (Small Phoenix), which is technically a girl's name. What seems at first like a dick move on the part of his parents to emasculate baby Bruce was actually a common defensive technique against demons in Chinese culture. Bruce's wife Linda wrote in her biography, The Bruce Lee Story: "Mr. and Mrs. Lee had lost their first son, and according to Chinese tradition when future sons are born, they are often addressed by a girl's name in order to confuse the spirits who might steal away their souls." Why do we bring all of this up? Well ...
Where it Gets Really Weird:
Linda Lee approved the making of a movie about Bruce Lee's life entitled Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. Throughout the movie, Bruce battles a metaphorical demon that haunts his family, but during a final confrontation, the monster loses interest in fighting Bruce and instead goes after his son Brandon.
OK, you say, it's kind of tasteless that they would actually make a movie that included Brandon's real-life tragic death (and to blame it on a demon, no less), but what's so spooky about it? Well, that's the thing: Brandon was still alive and well when they shot the movie. The whole "Lee family demon is coming for Brandon next" was written and shot before he had his freak accident.
In fact, Brandon's death happened less than two months before the release of Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story. The filmmakers dedicated the movie to him, and when asked about the bizarre coincidence director Rob Cohen commented: "I believe in some forms of higher power, like Fate and sometimes, I'm embarrassed to say it, God." Yes, it's so much more comforting to believe in a god who carries out elaborate murder vendettas against random families.
"Guess I'll just go after Bill Hicks now."
The Vast, Left-Handed Conspiracy
By now we've cycled through enough American presidents that we've got a big enough sample-set to start pulling out patterns. For instance, it turns out we really like blue- and green-eyed leaders, since we've only elected 5 presidents with brown eyes ever, in the history of the United States. To be fair though, blue or hazel eyes among white men aren't that uncommon, and we've historically been pretty gung-ho about electing white men. They're not nearly as rare as, say, being left-handed.
While only 10 percent of the U.S. population is left-handed, you'd never know it just by looking at American presidents. It turns out that over half of the last 14 presidents were all lefties, and recently, five of the last seven presidents were left-handed. Keep in mind that up until the 1970s, kids were still forced to become right-handed in school, so it took a special kind of stubbornness to remain a southpaw into adulthood.
The scissors situation is enough to break most children.
Where it Gets Really Weird:
In fact, in most recent elections you really didn't have a choice, since over the past two decades, nearly every presidential candidate has been left-handed. In 2008, both Barack Obama and John McCain were left-handed. In 1992, all three candidates for president were lefties: Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush, and dear old Ross Perot.
What are the odds? They're so long that the nation would never see something like that again until ... the very next election. As you may remember, 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole was left-handed, running against the incumbent, Ole' Leftie Bill. What the hell? It's not like there's some cultural bias toward left-handers -- we bet most of you had no idea any of these people were even left-handed at all, until we told you.
So what's the only other answer if not bizarre coincidence? That left-handers are secretly a superior race who are naturally born to rule the other 90 percent of society?
John F. Kennedy's Eerily Accurate Assassination Theory
The JFK assassination has made Encyclopedia Browns and Nancy Drews out of more conspiracy theorists than you can shake a second rifle at. That said, if you are expecting some big conspiracy-salad of government agencies and secret societies here, then you will be sorely disappointed. This coincidence comes from the lips of John F. Kennedy himself, just hours before his assassination.
According to "Johnny, We Hardly Knew Ye," by White House aides Kenneth P. O'Donnell and David F. Powers, when the Kennedys arrived in Dallas in 1963, they opened up the local Dallas Morning News and found a full-page anti-Kennedy advertisement "bordered in black, like a funeral notice."
P.S. That was an ironic "welcome."
Sounds like pretty poor taste for any occasion, never mind for the arrival of a president, right? Well, it turns out nobody knew what kind of hostile territory they were entering better than the president himself.
Where it Gets Really Weird:
The ad rattled Jacqueline Kennedy more than the president. In fact, he tried to calmly reassure the First Lady that everything would be fine with these ominously prophetic words: "We're entering nut country today. But, Jackie, if somebody wants to shoot me from a window with a rifle, nobody can stop it, so why worry about it?" Apparently, he was a Mad fan.
That exchange took place on the morning of November 22, 1963. As you probably know, Kennedy was assassinated that afternoon by a rifle fired from the window of the Texas School Book Depository. And if you're thinking, "Well, duh, how else would you assassinate a world leader?" The answer is, "basically any other way but that." Seriously, here's a huge list of prominent assassination attempts over the centuries. It's always a nut charging the guy with a pistol or knife (see: Lincoln) or some convoluted plot involving a bomb that never works (see: Hitler).
As far as we can tell, the number of prominent human beings who have been shot "from a window with a rifle" can be counted on one hand. It's simply not done that way. And if he simply meant, "We have protection against every possible assassination method except if some nuts shoots me from a window with a rifle, in which case we're utterly screwed!" then it seems like that's the sort of thing he should have shared with his Secret Service detail.
"Thanks for making us look bad."
Joan of Arc and the Maid of Lorraine Prophecy
Old-time historians weren't above sexing up their accounts with a little bit of what experts call "bullshit." Legend becomes fact, real accomplishments get exaggerated for propaganda purposes (no, George Washington never chopped down that cherry tree.) But when it comes to Joan of Arc, the parts of her life that historians all agree on are so remarkable that it doesn't seem to need all that much exaggeration. She won over her chief critic at Orleans through a sudden gust of wind on the battlefield, for instance, and one way or the other she reversed nearly a century of French defeats in one year despite no military training whatsoever.
So given all that she was accomplishing, it doesn't seem that strange that a prophecy started gaining traction around France stating, "As France had been lost by a woman, it would be saved by a woman." What is strange, however, is that the prophecy was already hugely popular in France long before Joan of Arc ever wandered off into the woods and started taking requests from angels to set English armies on fire.
There was always some asshole angel in the back who would request Free Bird.
The background on that is that when Joan was 8 years old, France's Queen Isabeau of Bavaria signed a treaty with England that essentially handed the French throne to the English king. Naturally, French citizens were less than excited about gifting their country to the same people who had been stabbing their ancestors to death for decades, and so they started to cling to this prophecy claiming that a woman would save them.
Where it Gets Really Weird:
After Joan of Arc's track record of reunifying France, that prediction couldn't sound any more made-up in hindsight. But guess who most historians attribute it to?
That would be Merlin the wizard, from Arthurian Legend. Attributing anything to a fictional wizard sounds like an open-and-shut case that it probably didn't exist, but the prophecy is mentioned repeatedly through the transcripts of Joan of Arc's trial and in a ballad written by Christine de Pisan while Joan of Arc was still alive. Each mentions Merlin's prophecy as if it was something everybody already knew about.
"Seriously. One more person yells 'Free Bird' and I'm gonna start cutting until I run out of faces."
Okay, you might think, maybe Joan just heard the prophecy as a child and tried to fulfill it. You'd be wrong. Joan of Arc claimed a lot of seemingly preposterous things during her trials, but she always dismissed the idea that she was the woman from the prophecy. So we're left with a strikingly prescient divination from a fictional English wizard foretelling the downfall of England, and the only person who doesn't believe it is the girl making it all happen.
The Apocalypse of Constantinople
The fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453 is widely considered one of the most consequential moments in world history. In fact, most historians credit that moment as the end of the Middle Ages. Like a bunch of lushes getting kicked out of a bar late at night, all the Byzantines fled the city after it fell and wandered to other European hotspots before sobering up and getting to work on the Renaissance. Suffice it to say, the collapse of Constantinople helped shape the rest of history.
Naturally, that kind of colossal event deserves some fanfare on a biblical level, so it is fitting that the fall of the city coincided perfectly with a partial lunar eclipse. While this may not sound that exciting, it was kind of a big deal for everyone who saw it because of a long-standing prophecy that said, "Constantinople would always endure provided that the moon, in its full circle, did not give a sign in the sky."
"I'm telling you, I think it's trying to tell us something."
Since the moon was an important symbol of Constantinople going back to its founding a whopping 1,123 years earlier, seeing it disappear during the most important siege of the century was a pretty terrifying coincidence for everyone who lived inside its walls. And yet even with a blacked-out moon, the Byzantines fended off the incoming attackers for a little while. It took the hand of God to sweep through the city to really let everyone know that prophecy wasn't fucking around.
Where it Gets Really Weird:
According to the terrified accounts of what happened after the eclipse, the skies opened up and, for the next week, the city was besieged with "whirlwinds and terrible storms," "thunder and lightning with clouds, and a violent rain with severe hail," and "drops huge and red, similar in size and appearance to a bull's eye, fell as tears."
They must have cut that verse.
What sounds more like hyperbole than a detailed account actually has some credibility behind it. According to the California Institute of Technology's Jet Propulsion Laboratory , these made-up-sounding phenomena may have been the result of a massive volcano -- one so huge that, even though it happened in the South Pacific, it caused apocalyptic weather-weirdness halfway around the globe. So what at first seems like a staggering coincidence feels a little more like God saying, "Alright, everyone get the hell out before I drop an asteroid on this nonsense."
Jacopo della Quercia is on Twitter. Follow him! It might coincidentally give you powers, or something.
For more things that will make you shit bricks, check out 6 Random Coincidences That Created The Modern World and 6 Ironic Coincidences Behind the Scenes of Famous Movies.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Science Fictions We Really Just Built.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see which columnist is actually three other columnists that can't stand each other.
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