10 Worst Ways History Has Repeated Itself

The comparisons people draw between the assassinations of presidents Lincoln and Kennedy are mere coincidences. Bettmann/CORBIS

You know those messages that get forwarded around email or Facebook claiming to reveal supposedly shocking coincidences between two historical events? If you're like many people, you probably can't find the delete button fast enough. But if not, you might have seen the one about the remarkable similarities between the assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.

While some of those claims have been debunked (it is the Internet after all), some are true. Yep, both presidents were shot on Friday with a fatal bullet to the head after being warned not to go out. Their successors were both named Johnson; Andrew was born in 1808 and Lyndon in 1908. Both assassins — John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald — have 15 letters in their names. And, most peculiarly, Booth escaped from a theater and was captured in a warehouse (well, a tobacco shed), and Oswald fled a warehouse and was caught in a theater [source: Snopes].

These are pretty intriguing similarities, but before we declare a rip in the space-time continuum, consider this: There are a lot of other things that weren't similar. Lincoln and JFK weren't shot with the same gun. It wasn't the same time of day. Heck, it wasn't even in the same city. Perhaps, as some experts believe, it's simply human nature to look for patterns even if there really aren't any [source: Shermer].