Thoughts worth thinking...
Julie Beck in her 2016 article "Coincidences and the Meaning of Life"
For Bernard Beitman, a psychiatrist and visiting professor at the University of Virginia, "... probability is not enough when it comes to studying coincidences. Because statistics can describe what happens, but can’t explain it any further than chance... Random is not enough of an explanation for me.”
Random wasn’t enough for the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung either. He came up with an alternative explanation. "Coincidences were, to him, meaningful events that couldn’t be explained by cause and effect... but he also thought that there was another force, outside of causality, which could explain them. This he called “synchronicity.”
Meaningful coincidences were produced by the force of synchronicity, and could be considered glimpses into another of Jung’s ideas—the unus mundus. "Unus mundus is the theory that there is an underlying order and structure to reality, a network that connects everything and everyone."
Beitman, sorts coincidences into three broad categories—
Environment-environment interactions -
These coincidences are the most obvious, and easiest to understand; objectively observable. Something(s) happen in the physical world.
You’re on a coach tour in Egypt and a long-lost love from Paris is in your group.
You find some money and a year later you meet the person who lost it
A nurse named Violet Jessop was a stewardess for White Star Line and lived through three crashes of its ill-fated fleet of ocean liners. She was on the Olympic when it collided with the HMS Hawke in 1911. In 1912, she was there for the big one: the Titanic. And four years later, when White Star’s Britannic, reportedly improved after its sister ship’s disaster, also sank, Jessop was there. And she survived.
Mind-environment interactions -
These coincidences are premonition-esque
You’re thinking of a friend and when suddenly out of the blue they call you.
These are considered hard to verify as there is no evidence.
Mind-mind interactions -
Straight-up mystical. Simulpathity, the feeling of pain or emotion shared by someone else at a distance.
In San Francisco, in 1973, February 26, I stood at a sink uncontrollably choking,” he says, clarifying, “There was nothing in my throat that I knew of.” “It was around 11 o’clock in San Francisco. The next day my brother called, and told me my father had died at 2 a.m. in Wilmington, Delaware, which was 11 in San Francisco, and he had died by choking on blood in his throat.
The law of very large numbers
In 1986, 32-year-old Evelyn Marie Adams won the New Jersey state lottery twice – in four months. After claiming the $3.9 and $1.4 million prizes, Adams said “I’m going to quit playing. I’m going to give everyone else a chance.” Statisticians calculated the odds of someone winning the lottery twice in such a short period at 1 in 17 trillion.
But Dr. Frank Mosteller and Dr. Persi Diaconis, then-professors of mathematics at Harvard, calculated the odds of “such an event (happening) to someone somewhere in the United States was more like one in 30.”
Doctors Mosteller and Diaconis explain “the law” shortly and succinctly: “With a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is apt to happen.” Put another way: there are 7.6 Billion people on Planet Earth. Strange things are bound to happen once in a while.
Regardless of what triggers coincidences, research suggests they’re more likely to happen to certain people. “People who describe themselves as religious or spiritual, those who are more connected with the world around them and those who are seeking meaning — or in distress and searching for signs — are more likely to experience coincidences,” Beitman says.
Ana Swanson tells the story how Mathematician Joseph Mazur heard one of his favorite coincidence stories. The driver, an Italian language teacher named Francesco, told of meeting a woman named Manuela who had come to study at his school. Francesco and Manuela met for the first time in a hotel lobby, and then went to have coffee.
They spoke for an hour, getting acquainted, before the uncomfortable truth came out. Noting Manuela’s nearly perfect Italian, Francesco finally asked why she decided to come to his school.
“She said, ‘Italian? What are you talk about? I’m not here to learn Italian,’” Mazur relates. “And then it dawned on both of them that she was the wrong Manuela and he was the wrong Francesco.” They returned to the hotel lobby where they had met to find a different Francesco offering a different Manuela a job she didn’t want or expect.