Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: The 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. in 2001 and the train bombings in Madrid, Spain, in 2004 were separated by a total of 911 days.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2004]
Origins: On 11 March 2004, multiple explosions ripped through three Madrid train stations, killing more than
To some people, the connection between the Madrid train station explosions and
But did they really? Skeptics who did the calculations came up with a
In any case, there is no evidence that whoever was responsible for the Madrid bombings deliberately planned them to take place on a numerically significant date. (The only speculative motive expressed so far for the choice of date was that the bombings might have been timed to influence the Spanish national elections scheduled to place a few days later.) So why do some of us continue to find significance in these types of coincidences?
One answer is that it gives us back a sense of control over a world gone mad. Other than cower in our homes, we can do little to protect ourselves against an enemy who might strike against anyone, anywhere, at any time. Being able to find patterns, even obscure ones, between terorrist-related activities allows us to think that we can take back some measure of control; that we can indeed discern when and where the next attack might come if only we stay alert for hidden messages and use the proper keys to decode them.
Another answer is that when the identity of the perpetrators of a terrorist attack is uncertain (as it initially was in the Madrid train bombings case, with the Spanish government attributing the attack to the ETA), we want to find some way of linking them to
Last updated: 11 December 2005
This material may not be reproduced without permission.
snopes and the snopes.com logo are registered service marks of snopes.com.