Tag Archives: John Wilkes Booth

Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

quick note_150pxI was in a discussion forum and somebody asked me to explain The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy. I started typing when i remembered a video from several years ago that will explain it better than i can write it.

Enjoy, my friend:)

MIB


Via You Are Not So Smart – YouTube

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How a technical glitch accidentally started the Navy Yard ‘truther’ movement

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By Caitlin Dewey via The Washington Post

conspiracyfilesConspiracy theories are an unfortunate, paranoid and counterfactual outgrowth of any national tragedy. But in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Navy Yard, so-called “truthers” found some hard proof that something was off: The attack happened on Sept. 16, but both ABC.com and British Columbia’s Kelowna Daily Courier published stories dated the day before.

Thousands of people, including some of the Internet’s most popular conspiracy theorists, seized on the time stamps as evidence of a vast government conspiracy to orchestrate tragedies and clamp down on gun rights in the aftermath. They have other “proof” too, of course — conjecture about “crisis actors” and John Wilkes Booth and the two rumored shooters who didn’t end up being part of Aaron Alexis’s plot. But the time stamp issue is the foundation of many of the more popular videos circulating on YouTube, Facebook and that seedy corner of the Internet where people debate the Illuminati and UFOs.

“Now we have what might be the best smoking gun evidence yet, and it is time-stamped from September 15,” rails the popular conspiracy vlogger Dahboo77 in a YouTube video that has been viewed more than 90,000 times. “These guys must have put this into the system right before midnight, right before they left the office, on the 15th. And they knew it” — “it” being the Navy Yard rampage, hours before it happened.

The reality is, of course, a little more mundane: Both sites incorrectly ingested a feed from the Associated Press, which caused their AP stories to display the wrong time stamps.

A little background in wire services is helpful here.

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Lincoln Kennedy Myths

An old story claims a long list of astonishing similarities between the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy.

By Brian Dunning via Skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

LincolnKennedy_300pxAnyone with email has probably received a chain letter revealing a startling series of similarities between the assassinations of U.S. Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy. But even before the days of email, the story had been around, being printed and reprinted, quoted and requoted, and it all seems to go back to a book published the year after Kennedy died. Author Jim Bishop’s book A Day in the Life of President Kennedy, published in 1964 but written mostly while Kennedy was still in office, included an appendix listing a number of strange parallels between the two distinguished Presidents.

We’re going to examine these parallels to see if they hold up, but in doing so we should keep in mind the larger question. Are these similarities in any way meaningful? Do numbers and the spelling of names hold any consequential significance? Let’s find out. Today’s version of what’s become quite the urban legend will read something like this:

Abraham Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846.
John F. Kennedy was elected to Congress in 1946.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President in 1860.
John F. Kennedy was elected President in 1960.

The names Lincoln and Kennedy each contain seven letters.

Both were particularly concerned with civil rights.

Both wives lost their children while living in the White House.

Both Presidents were shot on a Friday.

Both were shot in the head.

Lincoln’s secretary was named Kennedy.
Kennedy’s secretary was named Lincoln.

Both were assassinated by Southerners.

Both were succeeded by Southerners.

Both successors were named Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, who succeeded Lincoln, was born in 1808.
Lyndon Johnson, who succeeded Kennedy, was born in 1908.

John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Lincoln was born in 1839.
Lee Harvey Oswald, who assassinated Kennedy was born in 1939.

Both assassins were known by their three names.

Both names are made of fifteen letters.

Booth ran from the theater and was caught in a warehouse.
Oswald ran from a warehouse and was caught in a theater.

Booth and Oswald were assassinated before their trials.

The Lincoln-Kennedy myths are really intriguing when you hear them, but perhaps equally captivating when you hear the counter arguments. If I drop six pairs of dice, chances are that one pair will match. Taken by itself, that match is pretty cool. Four U.S. Presidents have been assassinated in office, which results in six possible pairings; between those six, it shouldn’t be surprising that we’d find one pairing with interesting coincidences. But that’s just where the counter arguments start to get interesting.

A lot of the similarities are about dates that are exactly 100 years apart. This is no great shock; as U.S. Presidential elections happen every four years, so there are only 25 elections in a century, and every President has at least one other President elected exactly a century before and/or after. kennedyBut this century-centric nature of the Lincoln-Kennedy legend starts to fall apart very quickly when you look at what should be the most important dates: Lincoln and Kennedy died 98 years apart, not a century; and they were elected to the terms in which they died 96 years apart, not a century. Conveniently omitted from the chain email. But let’s look deeper.

My favorite disassembly of the Lincoln-Kennedy legend is the one on Snopes.com. Barbara Mikkelson, who does most of the research and reporting on Snopes, has always been most astonishingly thorough with the way she tracks down every last scrap of an urban legend, but she also applies a very keen skeptical eye to popular claims. The Lincoln-Kennedy legend is primarily a list of coincidences; and when taken away from the context of all the many non-coincidences that also characterized the two men, it seems amazing. She writes:

We’re supposed to be amazed at minor happenstances such as the two men’s being elected exactly one hundred years apart, but we’re supposed to think nothing of the numerous non-coincidences: Lincoln was born in 1809; Kennedy was born in 1917. Lincoln died in 1865; Kennedy died in 1963. Lincoln was 56 years old at the time of his death; Kennedy was 46 years old at the time of his death. No striking coincidences or convenient hundred-year differences in any of those facts. Even when we consider that, absent all other factors, the two men had a one in twelve chance of dying in the same month, we find no coincidence there: Lincoln was killed in April; Kennedy was killed in November.

Even advice columnist Ann Landers took on this question in 1995, and aptly pointed out that there are far more differences between the men than similarities …

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The Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy

via You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: You take randomness into account when determining cause and effect.

The Truth: You tend to ignore random chance when the results seem meaningful or when you want a random event to have a meaningful cause.

AL_JFK_300pxAbraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were both presidents of the United States, elected 100 years apart. Both were shot and killed by assassins who were known by three names with 15 letters, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, and neither killer would make it to trial.

Spooky, huh? It gets better.

Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy, and Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln.

They were both killed on a Friday while sitting next to their wives, Lincoln in the Ford Theater, Kennedy in a Lincoln made by Ford.

Both men were succeeded by a man named Johnson – Andrew for Lincoln and Lyndon for Kennedy. Andrew was born in 1808. Lyndon in 1908.

What are the odds?

In 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a novel titled “Futility.”

More than two miles down, the ghostly bow of the Titanic emerges from the darkness on a dive by explorer and filmmaker James Cameron in 2001.

More than two miles down, the ghostly bow of the Titanic emerges from the darkness on a dive by explorer and filmmaker James Cameron in 2001.
Source: National Geographic Magazine

Written 14 years before the Titanic sank, 11 years before construction on the vessel even began, the similarities between the book and the real event are eerie.

The novel describes a giant boat called the Titan which everyone considers unsinkable. It is the largest ever created, and inside it seems like a luxury hotel – just like the as yet unbuilt Titanic.

Titan had only 20 lifeboats, half than it needed should the great ship sink. The Titanic had 24, also half than it needed.

In the book, the Titan hits an iceberg in April 400 miles from Newfoundland. The Titanic, years later, would do the same in the same month in the same place.

The Titan sinks, and more than half of the passengers die, just as with the Titanic. The number of people on board who die in the book and the number in the future accident are nearly identical.

The similarities don’t stop there. The fictional Titan and the real Titanic both had three propellers and two masts. Both had a capacity of 3,000 people. Both hit the iceberg close to midnight.

Did Robertson have a premonition? I mean, what are the odds?

In the 1500s, Nostradamus wrote:

Bêtes farouches de faim fleuves tranner
Plus part du champ encore Hister sera,
En caige de fer le grand sera treisner,
Quand rien enfant de Germain observa.

This is often translated to:

Beasts wild with hunger will cross the rivers,
The greater part of the battle will be against Hister.
He will cause great men to be dragged in a cage of iron,
When the son of Germany obeys no law.

That’s rather creepy, considering this seems to describe a guy with a tiny mustache born about 400 years later. Here is another prophecy:

Out of the deepest part of the west of Europe,
From poor people a young child shall be born,
Who with his tongue shall seduce many people,
His fame shall increase in the Eastern Kingdom.

Wow. Hister certainly sounds like Hitler, and that second quatrain seems to drive it home. Actually, Many of Nostradamus’ predictions are about a guy from Germania who wages a great war and dies mysteriously.

What are the odds?

If any of this seems too amazing to be coincidence, too odd to be random, too similar to be chance, you are not so smart.

You see, in all three examples the barn was already peppered with holes. You just drew bullseyes around the spots where the holes clustered together.

Allow me to explain.

MORE . . . .

7 people who some think lived beyond their date of death

via The Soap Box

John Wilkes Booth

John_Wilkes_Booth-portraitEveryone knows that John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Lincoln, and that twelve days later on April 26, 1865 he himself was shot and killed by Union soldiers after he refused to leave the barn that he was in that the soldiers had set ablaze, but there are rumors that Booth was not killed that day, and that in fact a look alike had been shot and killed, and that Booth had actually lived even into the early 20th century.

There is of course no proof of this, but many authors and descendants of Booth have suggested that he did escape, and there have been several attempts by the family to exhume his body to be tested for DNA.

Jesse James

174px-Jesse_james_portraitProbably one of the most famous outlaws of the Wild West, Jesse James and his gang robbed a number of banks, stagecoaches, and trains throughout his criminal career, until he was shot in the back of the head in his own house by fellow James Gang member Robert Ford on April 3, 1882 in and attempt to receive the reward on James’s head.

Now despite the fact that he was positively identified, there have been rumors going around even from back then that he faked his death, and that he may have lived under an assumed identity even into the 20th century.

John Dillinger

146px-John_Dillinger_mug_shotOn July 22, 1934 notorious American criminal John Dillinger was shot to death by FBI agents in an alley way in Chicago, but ever since then there have been rumors that he really wasn’t shot to death, and that who really was killed was just someone who just looked like him (perhaps even a payed body double).

The reason behind this is because many people said that he really didn’t look like he was suppose to. Of course there is a reason behind this: he had plastic surgery so that he wouldn’t look like himself (he even tried to get rid of the famous dimple in his chin). The most likely reason behind this is of course so that he could to live as a free man until he died (which in a ironic way is what happened).

Adolf Hitler

Stars_&_Stripes_&_Hitler_Dead2Without a doubt the most evil person in history, on April 30, 1945 Adolf Hitler and his wife Eva Braun killed themselves in an underground bunker in Berlin, Germany. There bodies were removed by Nazi Party loyalist and set on fire so that the Soviet Army couldn’t use them as propaganda pieces.

Despite the fact that the remains were found and that dental records confirm that the remains are that of the mad man, there are many people who believe that he did not commit suicide, and that he actually faked his death, and that he may have even lived past 100.

While most people believe that he escaped to either Spain or Argentina, some of the crazier claims are that he either escaped to Antarctica, or to the Moon, or to the inside of the Earth (which some Hollow Earth believers claim), and even another dimension or time period.

MORE . . .

Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Houdini

by Thomas Humphries via listverse.com

Reflecting on many aspects of Houdini’s life from beginning to end, this list will reveal that not only was he the greatest showman ever, but one of the most remarkable personalities the world has ever known too. “It is still an open question, however, as to what extent exposure really injures a performer.” -Harry Houdini.

10 – The Man with Many Names

Houdini was born Erik Weisz in 1874 in Budapest, Hungary, to Jewish parents. One of six children, the Weisz family moved to America in 1878. He changed his name to Ehrich and his friends called him Ehrie, which inspired his Americanized first name ‘Harry.’ He later changed his surname to Houdini because his partner, Jake Hyman, said it would mean ‘like Houdin’ in honour of the magician Robert-Houdin. His other stage names include, ‘Eric the Great,’ ‘The King of Cards,’ and ‘Eric, Prince of the Air.’

9 – Early Performances

Fascinated with magic from an early age, his first performance was at age 9; he picked up pins with his eyelashes whilst hanging upside down (he was paid thirty-five cents). He was also a trapeze artist and later devised an act called The Wild Man, locked in a cage wearing a loincloth and eating raw meat. Before gaining fame, he worked for free as a locksmith in order to gain a thorough knowledge of lock mechanisms. When he gained fame as an escapologist, one of his early stunts was to escape from the belly of a whale.

8 – Macabre Connections

Houdini was interested in anything to do with death; he bought the first electric chair, Edgar Allan Poe’s desk, and performed many of his stunts on Death Row. He also developed an interest in murderers, especially John Wilkes Booth. After the death of his beloved mother, Houdini gained an interest in spiritualism but later took it upon himself to expose all mediums as conmen (he attended séances in disguise, wearing a false beard and hat and revealed himself at key moments). Friend and creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was convinced Houdini could communicate with the dead without knowing it.

7 – Mrs. Houdini

Always referring to each other as ‘Mr. Houdini’ and ‘Mrs. Houdini,’ Houdini married Wilhelmina Beatrice ‘Bess’ Rahner only two weeks after meeting her. He wrote her hundreds of love letters during their thirty-year marriage, often when they were in the same room. She was always his onstage assistant. Whenever they argued, Houdini would leave the house and take a short walk. On his return, he would throw his hat into the room; if she threw it back out, she was still angry. She was distraught at his death and attended many séances, despite him exposing many mediums as frauds.

6 – Mayer Samuel Houdini

Houdini and Bess never had children and many speculated on the reason why. One speculation was that Houdini was x-rayed many times by his brother Leopold (New York’s first x-ray specialist) and the radiation made him sterile. To make up for this, he simply invented an imaginary child. He was called Mayer Samuel Houdini who was named after Houdini’s own father. Over the following years, Houdini wrote many letters to Bess on Mayer’s progress but they stopped after their ‘son’ became President of the United States.

5 – Pilot Extraordinaire

In 1909, six years after the Wright brothers proved human aviation possible, Houdini became extremely interested in airplanes. He once told a friend that the only reason he learned to drive was to get to the airport quicker. He learned to fly in Germany, the condition being that he taught German pilots once he was qualified. He regretted it afterwards, furious that he had taught the enemy pilots in War World I. He was the third person to fly across Australia (he claimed to be the first) and never flew again after that.

Keep Reading: Top 10 Fascinating Facts About Houdini.

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