The Coincidence Connector

  • A Non-Statistician’s Approach to Coincidences: Part 5 May 29, 2016

    We are sensitive to coincidences for good reason. Coincidences help us to see new patterns.

    We seek patterns to navigate through space and time. Patterns provide maps for the territory of our lives—where to go, how to get there, what to say to whom. The surprise of coincidences raises a question: am I seeing a new ... Read more »

  • Comedy Central Gags on Coincidences May 23, 2016 amy shimmer, coincidence

    If you think noticing coincidences is getting popular, you are probably right. When well known comics start making fun of them, that’s evidence.

    Amy Schumer and her gang of humorous cut-throats have taken the Universe and its coincidences under their carefully distorted comedic microscope. Their brief skits illustrate some basic types of coincidences. They also ... Read more »

  • Autism String May 17, 2016

    On March 14, 2016, Carole Thorpe was interviewing me on her Charlottesville, Virginia radio show, “The Fat Lady Sings with Carole Thorpe”.  Carole described a coincidence involving her best friend from young adulthood who died 25 years ago, at age 29, and his sister whom she had never met.

    The day before and unrelated to our ... Read more »

  • Dr. Beitman presents His Alter Ego, Dr. Coincidence May 5, 2016

    dr coincidence Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of stealth and fate.

    I’ve been around for a long, long year, shifting the course of history

    How do you think the sun and the moon millions of miles apart

    Seem to be from where you stand almost the ... Read more »

  • Serendipity to the Rescue May 5, 2016

    On March 16, 2016 a man called into the Charlottesville radio station WCHV while I was talking about coincidences

    He described one day having the very strong urge to go down the street where he knew some kids were playing under a tree.

    He tried to tell them ... Read more »

  • A Statistician’s Approach to Coincidences: Part 4 April 29, 2016

    Coincidences emerge in the minds of the beholders. Without a human mind to detect them, most coincidences would not exist.

    Cognitive processing errors serve for statisticians like Persi Diaconis and David Hand as a bulwark against the potential meaning of coincidences. Their perspective shows us how our minds help to create meaningful coincidences.

    We can pop coincidences ... Read more »

  • St. Joseph of Copertino and the Baal Shem Tov April 15, 2016

    Breaking out of our standard daily routines seems to increase the likelihood of coincidences. In May, 2015, I did something out of the ordinary. I went with a friend to the downtown mall of Charlottesville and waited while she got her hair trimmed. While walking around, I ran into another friend Mike Grosso. We had ... Read more »

  • Our Finely Tuned Universe April 8, 2016

    Look up at the sky. They are about 93 million miles apart. Yet the moon and the sun appear to be the same size. To make it even more obvious, look up at the sky during a solar eclipse. The moon completely hides its heavenly companion from view. Yet they are not the same size. ... Read more »

  • A Statistician’s Approach to Coincidences (Part 3) March 29, 2016

    As my previous post suggested and contrary to the views of some statisticians, we non-statisticians are pretty good at knowing whether or not a coincidence is random.  If we sense that a coincidence is neither random nor explainable, we are then tempted to wonder about a cause.

    To want to look for causes is just the ... Read more »

  • Couvade: When Men Feel Pregnant March 13, 2016

    A Wisconsin woman had tried for 5 years to become pregnant. One day her husband woke up feeling nauseous at the smell of breakfast. He rushed to the bathroom to vomit. He repeated the scene the next morning. Did he have an ulcer? No. She was pregnant.

    He was experiencing morning sickness and she was not. ... Read more »

  • A Statistician’s Approach to Coincidences: Part 2 March 1, 2016

    When people experience coincidences, they often think, “Wow, the chances of this occurring are so small!” Some statisticians say, however, that people aren’t good at intuitively calculating the chances. What may seem improbable, could actually be very probable.

    We tend to neglect the base rate. We become focused on the unlikeliness of the current event and ... Read more »

  • Statistician’s Approach to Coincidences: What Are the Odds January 18, 2016

    Estimating the probability of other coincidence types seems difficult. Since unlikeliness characterizes coincidences, clarifying their probabilities is a necessary task in better understanding them.

    Read more »
  • The Promise & Problems of Probability in Coincidence Studies December 16, 2015

    Coincidences attract our attention because they seem weird, odd, or unlikely. Their improbability stimulates wonder—“what are the odds of this happening?” Probability theory, which is a branch of mathematics, promises to shed light on this defining aspect of meaningful coincidences. Carrying this banner, I valiantly strode forward into probability’s thicket of mathematical concepts and formulas ... Read more »

  • Using Coincidences to Push a Sale December 14, 2015

    Coincidences can be used for a variety of purposes including making a sale. In this story, the salesman sought links of similarity with Diane as a way to establish connections in the hopes of increasing the possibility of a better deal for him and his company.

    Read more »
  • Tell Your Coincidence Story! December 2, 2015

    Coincidences can make great stories. Telling them can be entertaining both for the teller and the listener. The surprise factor adds juice to the tale. Talking about a coincidence can also help initiate difficult discussions.

    A reader sent this one:

    “A work colleague said he wanted to get to know me ... Read more »