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Old 18th October 2009, 03:58 AM   #1
Marshmallow
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How do you guys explain really bizarre cases of synchronicity?

There are plenty of examples of meaningful coincidences occurring, and I have experienced them myself. In one case, even a highly skeptical friend had to admit that there was probably something paranormal going on.

Do a quick web search and you'll see mountains of anecdotal evidence (I'm a newbie, so I can't post links yet). Some things are too timely and specific for me to dismiss as mere coincidence, including things I've experienced myself. How do you rationalize things that are so far outside of the laws of probability?

Note: I admit that many of these occurrences are, in fact, mere coincidences, but nowhere near all of them.

Last edited by Marshmallow; 18th October 2009 at 04:05 AM.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:06 AM   #2
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Unfortunately that is what is going on - mere coincidence. That and a helping of confirmation bias.

Think of how many "million to one" incidents you've heard or read about!

Last edited by bluesjnr; 18th October 2009 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:11 AM   #3
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What incidents are you thinking of? I don't wish to seem rude, but I don't want to go trawling the whole internet, only to have you constantly say "that's not what I was talking about" every time I bring back an example and refute it.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:11 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Unfortunately that is what is going on - mere coincidence. That and a helping of confirmation bias.

Think of how many "million to one" incidencts you've heard or read about!
In most cases, I would probably agree with you. However, there are certain series of events that seem like they would have closer to a "billion in one" probability of occurring.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:16 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
What incidents are you thinking of? I don't wish to seem rude, but I don't want to go trawling the whole internet, only to have you constantly say "that's not what I was talking about" every time I bring back an example and refute it.
That's understandable.

The specific events I'm referring too are a bit too personal for me to relate here, however, there are many other strange incidents, such as these:

strangecosmos (dot) com/content/item/143960 (dot) html

www (dot) 2spare.com/item_51964 (dot) aspx

Hopefully that will work. Just replace the (dot)s with actual dots and delete the spaces.

Last edited by Marshmallow; 18th October 2009 at 04:18 AM.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:17 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Marshmallow View Post
In most cases, I would probably agree with you. However, there are certain series of events that seem like they would have closer to a "billion in one" probability of occurring.
Yeah, and think about how many billion people there are on this planet and how many things they all do every day. If you haven't already read it, John Allen Paulos's book Innumeracy is pretty good on stuff like this.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:22 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by malbui View Post
Yeah, and think about how many billion people there are on this planet and how many things they all do every day. If you haven't already read it, John Allen Paulos's book Innumeracy is pretty good on stuff like this.
I'll have to check that book out. I just think it's really strange when something happens to just the right person at just the right time (and sometimes more that once in a short time period) without any known causal factor.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:40 AM   #8
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What about all the occasions when coincidences don't happen? For example, I just picked up my copy of Innumeracy to find the stuff about coincidences, and it didn't fall open at just the right page.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:42 AM   #9
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A series of coincidences saved my life. Sometimes I feel as if something supernatural was going on but in the end I know it was all just a bunch of coincidences.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:50 AM   #10
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To help out marshmallow

www.strangecosmos.com/content/item/143960.html

www.2spare.com/item_51964.aspx
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:55 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
What about all the occasions when coincidences don't happen? For example, I just picked up my copy of Innumeracy to find the stuff about coincidences, and it didn't fall open at just the right page.
I think that has to be the response to every example given. The classic example is you answer a ringing phone only to find it's the person you were just thinking of on the other end. Amazing, right? Maybe, until you think about how many times you think about someone and they don't call, and how many times you pick up the phone and it isn't the person you were just thinking about.
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Old 18th October 2009, 05:02 AM   #12
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Think about it... let's say that every day, world-wide, there are a billion possible ways for a billion-to-one coincidence to happen. This would mean that you could expect, on average, a billion-to-one coincidence to happen somewhere in the world every single day.

Given how many billions of people there are in the world, doing all kinds of stuff every day, a billion possible ways for a billion-to-one coincidence to happen is actually an understatement.
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Old 18th October 2009, 05:04 AM   #13
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Doesn't this just come back to the human brain being wired to look for patterns?
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Old 18th October 2009, 05:38 AM   #14
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Those sites remind me of this story:

In 1922 a Mr. John Lords was living in Hyderabad, India, when he discovered that his next door neighbor was also an American. He introduced himself and they quickly discovered that not only were they from the same small town in Nebraska, but they lived right next door to each other on the same street. After talking some more they learned that they had both moved to New Orleans after school and also lived right next door to each other and both worked for shipping companies. This was their third time being next door neighbors, even on the other side of the world.

See what I did there?
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Old 18th October 2009, 05:40 AM   #15
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The fact that something is meaningful does not make it less likely to be coincidence.
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Old 18th October 2009, 06:15 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Elaedith View Post
The fact that something is meaningful does not make it less likely to be coincidence.
Indeed. And let's not forget that there's no such thing as "nearly impossible". Either it's possible or not.

And having something POSSIBLE happen, isn't paranormal at all...
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Old 18th October 2009, 06:44 AM   #17
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Okay, this reminds me of what we like to call "the Nashville effect..."

Everyone I know has experienced it. Once you live here, you will run into people you know under the most bizarre and unlikely conditions imaginable (including randomly in other states in the middle of cross-country drives at truck stops in the middle of the night.) Every human being will suddenly become either someone you know or the friend of a friend.

I finally realized that there simply had to be some kind of logical explanation for this. It wasn't confirmation bias, because it literally almost never happened in the area where I'd grown up-- I could count the number of times on one hand. In Nashville, it was constant. That might be explained by the fact that the social circles were smaller, but only to a degree-- and what about the fact that the same thing would happen no matter where I went? (I'd decided that if I was ever lost in the middle of the Siberian wasteland, all I'd have to do would be to sit down and start chewing on some reindeer jerky, and my best friend from Nashville would undoubtedly stroll along in the next five minutes. No other attempts at rescue would be required.)

I think this is actually a very good example of how seemingly inexplicable coincidences can be explained, because I've realized what the logical explanation probably is. Back in Minnesota, people didn't really talk to each other. (In my childhood, it was extremely homogenous;we were a bunch of Scandinavians-- we did things like shaking hands at family reunions.) If you had anything in common with a stranger, you'd never find out. If you even knew someone walking by you on the street, you might not find out, because of the entire lack-of-eye-contact thing. When I moved to the South, it took a long time to get used to the weird way everyone was constantly hugging and smiling and using weird appellations such as "honey". However, it meant that we all got to know each other, and then we'd actually do things like start a conversation with people we didn't know in other areas and find out if we knew someone in common.

So it's either that, or the sinister influence of the Freemasons meeting in that limestone building on Broadway across from the downtown Episcopal church with the mysterious bell tower...
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Old 18th October 2009, 08:21 AM   #18
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Yep, we see and make significant meaning and without releasing, disregard all the stuff that doesn't seem to make sense or even appears uncannily remarkable.

There's also the cluster effect. If you take a handful of stones and throw them onto the ground they don't fall at an equal distant etc , they fall in random unequal groups , or clusters. Some closer to others.
Same with events. some appearing more signficant than others.

A striking coincidence I find that happens quite often is when I read a word and at the exact same time I read it the word is spoken on TV.

-

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Old 18th October 2009, 08:32 AM   #19
Last of the Fraggles
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Originally Posted by Marshmallow View Post
In most cases, I would probably agree with you. However, there are certain series of events that seem like they would have closer to a "billion in one" probability of occurring.
Given the multiple billions of things that happen in the World every single day it would be far more supernatural if billion to one shots didn't happen fairly regularly.
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Old 18th October 2009, 08:34 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Maia View Post
So it's either that, or the sinister influence of the Freemasons meeting in that limestone building on Broadway across from the downtown Episcopal church with the mysterious bell tower...
Plainly it's the Freemasons. How else to explain the uncanny fact of my reading this the day after being in a Masonic hall (using their space for a musical rehearsal).

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Old 18th October 2009, 08:45 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by bluesjnr View Post
Unfortunately that is what is going on - mere coincidence. That and a helping of confirmation bias.
You beat me to it.

Coincidence + Confirmation Bias = Synchronicity

Couldn't be simpler.
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Old 18th October 2009, 09:19 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Rrose Selavy View Post

A striking coincidence I find that happens quite often is when I read a word and at the exact same time I read it the word is spoken on TV.

-
My wife does this constantly. Her response is "Why does this always happen to me?" She doesn't quite seem satisfied that's it's a common phenomena and that she just makes a point of noticing every time it happens.
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Old 18th October 2009, 09:53 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
Doesn't this just come back to the human brain being wired to look for patterns?
And you spot patterns or make them. You just forget all the billions of stuff in between the 'hits' because there is no patten to it.
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Old 18th October 2009, 10:41 AM   #24
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Marshmallow, how do you determine when a coincidence is a "significant coincidence"?

How do you calculate that the odds against certain events you've experienced were a billion to one?

Did you actually gather the data you needed to make such a calculation? (Or for that matter, did you even consider what such evidence would be?) If not, you're committing the confirmation bias.

I suggest you read this fine essay on coincidence (or the law of truly large numbers):

http://www.skepdic.com/lawofnumbers.html
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Old 18th October 2009, 10:56 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
I think that has to be the response to every example given. The classic example is you answer a ringing phone only to find it's the person you were just thinking of on the other end. Amazing, right? Maybe, until you think about how many times you think about someone and they don't call, and how many times you pick up the phone and it isn't the person you were just thinking about.
Had something like that happen once as a kid. I dialed a friend of mine, the phone didn't ring, and suddenly Kevin's voice was on the line sounding out my phone number as he pushed the buttons. He had picked up his phone to call me after it connected, but before it rang. Wild.
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Old 18th October 2009, 11:10 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
I think that has to be the response to every example given. The classic example is you answer a ringing phone only to find it's the person you were just thinking of on the other end. Amazing, right? Maybe, until you think about how many times you think about someone and they don't call, and how many times you pick up the phone and it isn't the person you were just thinking about.
It's worse when it's a creditor at the other end.


M.
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Old 18th October 2009, 11:14 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Fnord View Post
You beat me to it.

Coincidence + Confirmation Bias = Synchronicity

Couldn't be simpler.

Wasn't that a Police album?


M.


(I mean, WOW!)
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Old 18th October 2009, 11:28 AM   #28
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Brian Dunning's Here be Dragons has a nice portion on this in which he explains how the Law of Large Numbers means such coincidences have to occur. You can find Dragons on YouTube.
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Old 18th October 2009, 01:05 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by DemonDawg View Post
My wife does this constantly. Her response is "Why does this always happen to me?" She doesn't quite seem satisfied that's it's a common phenomena and that she just makes a point of noticing every time it happens.
Hmmm.
My name for it is "bi -lingual chance" or maybe "word echo/mirroring"
And it's not usually a word that you might think that could more likely "overlap" being topically in the news. It's not often necessarily a newspaper I'm reading it from or news prog I'm hearing it from..


Talking of odds, it's 14 million to one to win ouright the UK National Lottery, 80 million to 1 for the US Lottery but someone occasionally does.
Not the same person each time of course....and not promising odds for a racehorse bet.

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Old 18th October 2009, 01:37 PM   #30
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My husband and I met on an internet forum, we lived on literally the opposite sides of the world in countries neither one of us had an intention to visit. I didn't talk to random individuals on the internet outside of posting, we just did that time.

If I think of the odds of us meeting, then staying together in a very long distance relationship for about 3 years, then me emigrating and marrying him and us remaining happily married, I think I'd stand more chance of growing a second nose. But it's still just a coincidence. A very happy one, but a coincidence nonetheless.

Since I attribute this hugely improbably event to coincidence, it'd take something hugely dramatic before I started thinking supernatural thoughts.
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Old 18th October 2009, 02:28 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Last of the Fraggles View Post
Given the multiple billions of things that happen in the World every single day it would be far more supernatural if billion to one shots didn't happen fairly regularly.
Wow! I was going to say that. What a coinci.....

Norm
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Old 18th October 2009, 02:38 PM   #32
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Thinking about it, I rang a friend on Friday evening JUST AS THEY WERE ABOUT TO TEXT MESSAGE ME!!! Evidence of a higher power, or evidence of us both realising at the same time that my friend was supposed to have let me know where we were going for a meal on Saturday night? Clearly, mystical forces were at work.
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Old 18th October 2009, 02:45 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Marshmallow View Post
There are plenty of examples of meaningful coincidences occurring, and I have experienced them myself. In one case, even a highly skeptical friend had to admit that there was probably something paranormal going on.....
.....
Did they have to admit it, or did they not have a possible alternate explanation ?

What is a coincidence when it's not a coincidence ?
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:16 PM   #34
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Another approach to the question. . .

Originally Posted by Marshmallow View Post
How do you guys explain really bizarre cases of synchronicity?
This is pretty much an example of begging the question. That is, if you're trying to argue that really improbable coincidences are necessarily examples of synchronicity, and you simply call them "cases of synchronicity" you're simply begging the question.
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Old 18th October 2009, 04:48 PM   #35
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There is probably something real about synchronicity. Perhaps it has to do with parallel dimensions.

It would not supprise anyone here to say I favor Jung over Freud.
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Old 18th October 2009, 07:35 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Sledge View Post
I think that has to be the response to every example given. The classic example is you answer a ringing phone only to find it's the person you were just thinking of on the other end. Amazing, right? Maybe, until you think about how many times you think about someone and they don't call, and how many times you pick up the phone and it isn't the person you were just thinking about.

Exactly, or the mother who was worried something happened to her child on the night that the child had something bad happen to them.. when said mother probably got equally worried every single night that their child was out later than expected. I know my own mother would feel this way virtually all the time that I was late.

But the one time they are right, suddenly it's proof.
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Old 18th October 2009, 07:40 PM   #37
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It's quantum tunneling.
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Old 18th October 2009, 10:00 PM   #38
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A lotto win is generally between 6 and 10 consecutive coincidences. There is not much beyond the probable.
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Old 19th October 2009, 07:07 AM   #39
ponderingturtle
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Originally Posted by Marshmallow View Post
There are plenty of examples of meaningful coincidences occurring, and I have experienced them myself. In one case, even a highly skeptical friend had to admit that there was probably something paranormal going on.

Do a quick web search and you'll see mountains of anecdotal evidence (I'm a newbie, so I can't post links yet). Some things are too timely and specific for me to dismiss as mere coincidence, including things I've experienced myself. How do you rationalize things that are so far outside of the laws of probability?

Note: I admit that many of these occurrences are, in fact, mere coincidences, but nowhere near all of them.
The thing is that you would expect remarkable coincidences to crop up fairly regularly. There are just so many events everyday that there are hundreds of thousands of millions to one events happening each and every day. Given how memorable these are it is unsuprising that they seem to happen a lot.


Look at this also, if I shuffle a deck of cards a deal all of them out the odds against that particular order of cards is something like 1 in 1061. This is phenominaly unlikely, but of course the cards have to be in some order and any other order is equaly unlikely. Then you get that almost every single one of those options has some arangement of cards that has some pattern to it, and you see a lot of what happens.
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Old 19th October 2009, 07:09 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Mojo View Post
What about all the occasions when coincidences don't happen? For example, I just picked up my copy of Innumeracy to find the stuff about coincidences, and it didn't fall open at just the right page.
Hey just the other day, I was walking down the street and didn't run into someone I haven't seen since high school. What are the odds of that!
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