Coincidence, synchronicity, and other things going bump, together, in the night...

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BLOT: (11 Oct 2010 - 11:24:29 AM)

Coincidence, synchronicity, and other things going bump, together, in the night...

I meant to post this a week or two ago. It started with separate coincidences. The first. I was reading a novel from the 90s back around the end of September and I noted a strange word, "argy-bargy". From context, it was pretty obvious that it meant "argument". Then, less than a week later, I was playing a "talking book" written this year, and in one scene, there was again the use of the word argy-bargy. How many times has that happened to you? The second bit. I was reading's article, "6 Romantic Movie Gestures That Can Get You Prison Time," when I came across the phrase—in #5—"rape by fraud". I wouldn't say it is a unique phrase, and I can immediately grasp what it is getting at. But then, about two days later, saw this linked to on "Girl Poses as Man for 6yr Fling". With the strange circumstances put to a side—how exactly do you convince someone you are having sex with that you are of another gender?*—this was another case of coincidence. I read about "rape by fraud" just a couple of days before seeing a news article about it.

My friend Raymond and I have joked about it quite a bit. He once posted about the very phenomenon I am talking about, hearing a word once and then the next day: hearing it again. It was a few weeks later, in the mall, that we were talking about Drew Barrymore when a huge wall poster featuring her (not sure the use of such a thing) was carried right by the door of Book Gallery. Let's call that the speak of the devil coincidence. What else is there? You have things like un/lucky numbers and colors. You wear a green shirt, and meet the woman of your dreams. You walk into a green door, and find $100 just lying on the ground. You pick the green scratch card, and win a vacation. However, whenever you wear red or otherwise choose red, something bad happens. I've seen people do the same thing with numbers, where a certain number of steps or dumplings is good, but one less is bad.

There are lots more examples of the phenomena, but it won't really help my point to list them all. What I am curious about is explaining them, if you can do such a thing. There are several explanations, which I will list from the crazier and/or more divine, down to the more practical and, you might say, more boring.

I am sure there are others. How about you, how do you resolve coincidence and synchronicity? Something different from above? I am somewhere between the bottom half. I think that things involve a mixture of density waves (in the entry linked, I discuss them in academic settings), as well as a case of large-number pairs, recency theory, translation/confirmation bias, group dyndamics, and sensitivity. This makes me somewhat boring, but it comes down to two things I consider true about the universe and us in it: a) lots of stuff happens and b) our brain is made to compress lots of stuff into a couple of lines of usable data. Mix this in with "stuff happening" being pre-sorted by groups-of-belonging and you increase the likelihood of smoething showing up that just doesn't seem explanable. Then again, you get those really weird ones, like these mentioned by today's articles on (something of a coincidence that made go ahead and finish this article), and sometimes you wonder. I don't really wonder, I'm pretty set in my boring ways with the whole "really large numbers" theory, but there you go. Makes some of us wonder.

* I know at least one of you went "carefully".

TAGS: Matters Probabalistic

BY WEEK: 2010, Week 41
BY MONTH: October 2010

Written by Doug Bolden

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