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4 Most Insanely Unreal Coincidences in History

4 Most Insanely Unreal Coincidences in History

We can prove to you right now that truth is stranger than fiction—that what we call "reality" is probably a cheap floral curtain with a giggly wizard hiding behind it.

There's really no other conclusion if you think about any of these too-impossible-to-be-true coincidences:

1. William West and William West

Ever been told you probably have an exact doppelganger who exists somewhere, but that you'll probably never meet because that would be statistically next to impossible?

Time: 1903. Place: Leavenworth Penitentiary, Kansas. A dude named William West is being re-incarcerated but claiming he's done nothing wrong. A story the cops are used to hearing, but when they find out there's already a William West in the prison, there's a huge "What the..." moment.

See, it turns out not only were Criminal William West and Pissed William West bearers of the same name...they looked identical. Without any relation to each other or ever having met each other before.

We can only guess that a cute switcheroo story worthy of Mark Twain or at least Barbie followed. Except, you know, one of the William Wests was serving a life sentence for murder.

2. Hernan Cortes Comes on Doomsday

Exhibit A: The Aztecs believed that their angry god Quetzalcoatl the Feathered Serpent was going to return and kick their butts, because that's what angry gods do.

Exhibit B: Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes was about to arrive across the Atlantic to kick some butt, because that's what Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes did.

Exhibit C: The prophecy stated that Quetzalcoatl would arrive on the exact date "1-Reed, 9-Wind," and that he would come from the east.

Exhibit What-the-How-Does-That...: Hernan Cortes arrived, not only on the exact year, but on the exact day the Aztecs expected their god to return, and from the east, the exact direction they expected him to return from.

Exhibit Overkill: Cortes landed wearing a black suit, because it was Good Friday. Guess what color Quetzalcoatl was supposed to be wearing on his return? That's right, Cortes even got the fashion right. The only way this whole thing could be crazier is if Cortes was actually a snake with feathers.

3. Poe Bases His Book on Real Events...That Haven't Happened Yet

Ever heard of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket? That's okay, because according to a trustworthy source, it's "a very silly book." That trustworthy source is the author, by the way. Edgar Allan Poe's only full novel was pretty much a flop: It chronicles a voyage where, to make a long story short, the sailors run out of supplies and draw lots to decide who gets eaten. The unlucky kid happened to be the cabin boy, Richard Parker. (No, not Spider-Man's dad. No, not the tiger.)

Fast forward 46 years, hit pause, and prepare to have your brain squirt out your nose. Ready? Edgar Allan Poe, for some strange reason, said his novel was "based on true events," which is technically true, because in 1884—46 years after Poe's book was published—a huge controversy arose over what the punishment should be for a ship's crew that had run out of supplies and eaten their cabin boy. Whose name was Richard Parker.


4. Dude Prophesies Titanic Sinking Down to Two Letters and the Number of Lifeboats

You may have heard about this insane coincidence, so we'll just tell you the basics and then list every insane similarity. In 1898, Morgan Robertson published a novella called Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan, because Victorians don't like to be locked down to just one title. This was 14 years before an event so similar that upon reading it could cause your consciousness to be prestidigitated into a new dimension therefore forsaking our time-space continuum altogether.

Which would suck, so be careful. Oh yeah, that event was the sinking of the Titanic. Here's the dead-on identicalness of the two:

Titan = Titanic. Yeah, sure, whatever.

People in the book called the Titan "unsinkable." Hmmm.

Both had "too few" lifeboats.

Both were 800-foot-long British vessels. Alright, that's somewhat crazy.

Both sank after hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic. OK, we give up, that's—

In April.

Around midnight.

Okay, we'll stop in a second but just one more thing:

The Titan crashed into an iceberg 400 miles from Newfoundland at a speed of 25 knots. The Titanic crashed into an iceberg 400 miles from Newfoundland at a speed of 22.5 knots.

What. What. What. How. What.

Tags: history, lists, crazy things, coincidences

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Scott Greenstone

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