The Curse of the Elevens?
Date Added: Feb. 5, 2006
Human beings love coincidences. Coincidence appears to show pattern in chaos and make the unexplainable explainable – at least to a point. Collecting seemingly related ‘facts’ is a favorite pasttime in the online world, with many such lists floating about. While most purport to leave it up to the reader to determine what, if any, significance the compilation has, the factoids are carefully selected to prove a point.
1) New York City has 11 letters.
2) Afghanistan has 11 letters.
3) Ramsin Yuseb (The terrorist who threatened to destroy the Twin Towers in 1993) has 11 letters.
4) George W Bush has 11 letters.
This could be a mere coincidence, but this gets more interesting:
1) New York is the 11th state.
2) The first plane crashing against the Twin Towers was flight number 11.
3) Flight 11 was carrying 92 passengers. 9 + 2 = 11
4) Flight 77 which also hit Twin Towers, was carrying 65 passengers. 6+5 = 11
5) The tragedy was on September 11, or 9/11 as it is now known. 9 + 1+ 1 = 11
6) The date is equal to the US emergency services telephone number 911. 9 + 1 + 1 = 11.
Sheer coincidence..?! Read on and make up your own mind:
1) The total number of victims inside all the hi- jacked planes was 254. 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.
2) September 11 is day number 254 of the calendar year. Again 2 + 5 + 4 = 11.
3) The Madrid bombing took place on 3/11/2004. 3 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 4 = 11.
4) The tragedy of Madrid happened 911 days after the Twin Towers incident.
The message above began circulating in 2001, just days after the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and other targets in the United States. People were still trying to understand the seemingly meaningless events of that terrible day, so any information that showed some pattern and gave some sense that the attacks could have been predicted (or prevented), was very welcomed. The missive above is most often seen circulating together with similarly meaningless pieces about coincidences in the Windows Wingdings font and a verse 9-11 of the Koran.
An old college professor of mine once said “the easiest way to prove a hypothesis is to ignore any evidence that disproves it.” He was, of course, being critical of research designed exclusively to validate a theory without attempting to disprove it, but his lesson applies here. By presenting only a carefully picked selection of facts that seem to fit a pattern, the author managed to raise some eyebrows, without actually making a point.
At first glance, the above list does appear interesting, but it would be just as easy to come up with a collection of numerical factoids that don’t involve the number 11. For instance, the author of the above points out that the date of the Madrid bombing adds up to 11 if you treat each number individually, but doesn’t explain why doing the same with the date of the New York attack doesn’t (9 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 = 14).
And what about other names and words associated with those terrorist attacks that don't add up:
The list could go on, but there’s no real point – just as there is no real point in the e-mail message above. Break this chain.