Status: True (kind of, though I wouldn't use the word 'foretold')
2spare.com offers a list of the Top 15 Strangest Coincidences
. It's an interesting list (Thanks for the link, Kathy!), and as far as I can tell all the coincidences they list are basically true. Or, at least, they've all been widely reported, and I haven't been able to find any false statements in them yet. (I didn't analyze all of them that closely.)
But one coincidence I found particularly interesting, that I hadn't read about before, involved an American writer named Morgan Robertson who in 1898 wrote a novella titled Futility
. It told the story of a massive ocean liner named the Titan
that hits an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic and sinks. Fourteen years later, in real life, the Titanic
hits an iceberg while crossing the Atlantic and sinks. Very weird.
The coincidence was definitely not lost on Robertson who immediately had his story republished after the Titanic
sank, with the new title Futility and the Wreck of the Titan
. Apparently he tweaked the republished story a little bit to make the similarities even more striking. (He altered the dimensions of his fictional boat to make it more like the Titanic
.) But the biggest similarity of all (Titan
) he didn't need to tweak. That was legitimately in the original story (which can be read here
This coincidence is discussed on skepticwiki
, which points out that the story is often used by believers in the paranormal as evidence of premonition. But as they point out:
"The most startling coincidence above all is the similarity in names between Titan and Titanic. In 2003, Senan Moloney wrote an article for the online resource Titanic Book Site where he finds three occasions before the writing of "Futility" where a ship named Titania sank at sea, and one of these bore certain similarities to the eventual Titanic disaster. It could be that, inspired by this disaster (or all three) Morgan Robertson chose to base his ocean liner's name on their names."
Still, it is a very striking coincidence. But sometimes strange coincidences do happen. That doesn't make them paranormal.
In fact, 2spare.com leaves off its list what I find to be the most amazing coincidence in history: that when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620, one of the first native Americans they met not only spoke fluent English, but had actually lived in England for a number of years and had crossed the Atlantic numerous times. (He was more cosmopolitan and well-traveled than they were.) To me this is just amazing that out of the entire huge continent the Pilgrims managed, by sheer luck, to find the one guy, Squanto
, who spoke English. It's like traveling halfway across the galaxy, landing on a planet, and discovering that the inhabitants speak English. (Of course, that happens in Star Trek
all the time.) And without Squanto's help the Plymouth Colony probably wouldn't have lasted through the winter, and American history itself might have taken a very different course. But it was just a coincidence. Nothing supernatural about it (though the Pilgrims definitely viewed it as an example of divine favor).