- 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 »
- The Non-Diamond Earrings November 3, 2015
A student in my first class at the University of Virginia did her homework! She wrote this coincidence story:
“A few years ago after moving to Charlottesville to raise my small son alone, I was feeling confirmed in the wisdom of my move but realizing life would be comfortable while not luxurious. I was OK with ... Read more »
- The Several Meanings in a Meaningful Coincidence October 28, 2015
In this post I examine a basic element of meaningful coincidences—the several aspects of meaning in each of them. While the poet William Wordsworth suggested that sometimes “we murder to dissect”— that analysis can remove meaning from the experience—I believe that by taking apart coincidences and examining their qualities, we can more fully ... Read more »
- Why Study Coincidences? Part 2 October 8, 2015
I study coincidences because they are fascinating. I study them because I’ve discovered they are useful in ways most people never considered. Once you become aware of them, you realize what a ubiquitous part of life they are. They are intertwined with so many of the things we hold to be important.
In Part 1, I ... Read more »
- Why Study Coincidences? Part 1 October 8, 2015
When I ask myself why I’ve embarked on a mission to establish Coincidence Studies, the simplest answer is that coincidences are fascinating. They jolt us into an awareness of mysterious connections between ourselves and the world around us.
I am curious about how they work and what they can do. When I work on trying to ... Read more »