What are the chances?

Discussion in 'Parapsychology' started by Magical Realist, Mar 28, 2024.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Synchronicity pops up in our lives at the most unexpected times. One time a friend of mine was reading a letter I had written him. At one point in the letter I had written that I was listening "to Beethoven's seventh, second movement ofcourse." At that exact moment the radio he was listening to began playing the second movement of Beethoven's seventh! There's just something whimsically magical about written words and books. Here's a fascinating article on a phenomenon author Arthur Koestler dubbed "the Library Angel"---noteworthy coincidences/synchronicities involving books.
    "Some time ago I was researching the work of the late marine biologist John Lilly, famed for his research on dolphins. Fascinated by an extract I read online from his autobiography, The Scientist, I went searching for more samples. Nothing. I was discouraged to learn the title was also out of print.

    "However will I ever locate this damn book?" I thought.

    Later that afternoon while arranging things in my office I moved a large framed painting I had set against a bookcase. A book — just one — fell from a lower shelf: The Scientist by John Lilly.

    I had bought a paperback copy a few years earlier, but never got around to reading it. In fact, I had completely forgotten about it among my many books.

    Not an earth-shaking coincidence, but one that got my attention.

    In Notes From a Small Island, author Bill Bryson tells of a similar experience, after pitching a story to a travel magazine on, of all things, extraordinary coincidences. When he came to write the article, Bryson realized that, although he had plenty of information about scientific studies into the probability of coincidence, he “didn't have nearly enough examples of remarkable coincidence themselves.”

    After writing a letter to the magazine saying he wouldn't be able to deliver, Bryson left the letter on his desk to mail later, and drove off to his job at The Times of London. Here he saw a notice on the door of an elevator, altering staff to the literary editor's annual sale of review copies sent to the paper. The place was packed of book browsers. He stepped into the crowd and the very first book his eyes fell on was a paperback called Remarkable True Coincidences.

    “How's that for a remarkable true coincidence?” Bryson writes. “But here's the uncanny thing. I opened it up and found that the very first coincidence it discussed concerned a man named Bryson."

    "After reading through a score of "library cases," one is tempted to think of library angels in charge of providing cross-references," wrote the late Hungarian author Arthur Koestler in the 1972 book, The Challenge of Chance. Koestler put a seraphic spin on this particular species of good fortune, and his "library angel" will be familiar to many writers, readers and researchers. Whether she's sister to serendipity or just cousin to dumb luck, she seems to make her appearance when your guard is down. You're about to give up on some search through shelves, stacks or databases, and suddenly she’ll take your hand and lead you to the desired item..."

    Cont'd here::

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2024
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I read a book written by John Lilly, I think it was called "The Mind of the Dolphin". It didn't fall off my bookshelf though.

    What you are describing is interesting but it's the definition of coincidence. It happens. We have millions of thoughts and when something like this happens, it is a coincidence. It is bound to happen eventually.

    Due to the law of large numbers it happens all the time to someone. It's just "shocking" when it's you. If there was anything to it, it would happen to you more often. It doesn't, therefore it's just a coincidence.

    Humans are good (too good) at recognizing patterns, even where none exist. We see faces in clouds for example. We aren't as good, with numbers and especially not with properly assessing probability.

    Something happens and we think that must be a one in a million or one in a billion chance when in fact the probably is usually much less than that.

    I was on a local walking path around a lake and my mind randomly went to thinking about colors. I like colors. I like yellow, it's not my favorite color for clothes, that might be darker colors like blue or charcoal or whatever but I like yellow in general.

    The above paragraph was what basically popped into my mind and just as I was thinking that even though I really like yellow, I don't buy yellow clothes and it's not that common in clothes anyway. Someone stepped from the grass onto the walking path right in front of me at that moment and they were wearing a yellow T-shirt.

    That registered in my mind of course given what I was thinking about but it was a coincidence. Most things I'm thinking about don't appear like that at the time I'm thinking of them. Very rarely, they do. That's the definition of coincidence. If there was any more to it, it would happen more often.

    There are definitions for probability involving how many times could something happen and how many times does it not happen. We, as humans, don't generally think that way. Maybe we are thinking of a childhood friend that we haven't heard from in 40 years and as we are thinking of them, the phone rings, and it's them.

    We may think "Wow, that's a 1 in a million chance for that to happen". We don't know a million people, so the chances of the phone ringing and the person on the line is a friend from childhood can't be 1 in a million if you don't know a million people.

    We also don't take into account how many hundreds of thoughts we have in a short period of time and then multiply that out for 40 years. We don't take into account how many times those millions of thoughts don't result it anything special. We only remember the few, over the decades, that do result in something unusual.

    That's coincidence. It's amazing to the winner of a major lottery. "How could it be me?". However, it's got to be someone, as a matter of fact.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2024
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Sorry Seattle but I don't buy the "such coincidences are bound to happen" argument. I have no reason to assume that such remarkable and meaningful alignments of events are bound to happen at all. Yet there's just too many examples of them happening anyway especially right when people need them to happen. Here's an extraordinary case of actor Anthony Hopkins' search for a particular book he was to be in a movie of. Bound to happen? I think not.

    "The biography of the actor Anthony Hopkins contains a striking example of a serendipitous coincidence. When he first heard he’d been cast to play a part in the film The Girl from Petrovka (1974), Hopkins went in search of a copy of the book on which it was based, a novel by George Feifer. He combed the bookshops of London in vain and, somewhat dejected, gave up and headed home. Then, to his amazement, he spotted a copy of The Girl from Petrovka lying on a bench at Leicester Square station. He recounted the story to Feifer when they met on location, and it transpired that the book Hopkins had stumbled upon was the very one that the author had mislaid in another part of London – an advance copy full of red-ink amendments and marginal notes he’d made in preparation for a US edition."--- https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/13/are-coincidences-real
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2024
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    We have a world of 8 billion people. A lot of "rare" things are bound to happen. How "meaningful" a coincidence is depends on the make up of the person. Some people are more "emotional" than others and assign more meaning than another person would.

    I had a very good friend in college. We lived just a few rooms apart my sophomore year. I knew a little about his family (from another state). I knew he had a younger brother but I never met him. When we graduated I knew that he was going to law school in the same state. I was going to law school in WA state (from NC) and after a year I decided to change schools and went to get an MBA in Int'l Business in Arizona.

    It was a small private school. As I was walking around campus I heard someone call his friend "Hey, Campbell" and I noticed he was referred to a blond kid that looked very familiar. I knew that I didn't know him but he looked similar to my friend from college, whose last name was Campbell.

    I didn't have any classes with this kid but one day as he was coming out of a class that I was about to go into I said "Do you have a brother named Mark who went to ASU and is now in law school" He said, yes.

    My friend had never mentioned that his brother was going to my school. I didn't even know about that school at the time. Several years had passed since I last saw Mark. That's a surprising coincidence.

    I knew of a guy, from the Int'l department of the bank I was working for. I didn't "know" him but I knew of him and had briefly met him. He was a partner of someone who had been my boss. They didn't even work at the bank anymore.

    I was on vacation in Thailand. No one from the bank knew that I was going to Thailand on vacation. We (I was married at the time) went to Phuket but you really stay 25 miles away from the town, at the beach. We decided to take a tour into town one night to watch a Thai kickboxing match in a large auditorium. There were about 500 people there.

    This guy that I had met, who was married, was there along (without his wife) with a Thai "hooker" and he sat right in front of my wife and I (unintentionally). At the end of the match he went to go to the bathroom and when he got back you could tell that he realized that my wife and I (who he had met once as well) were sitting there.

    When it was time to go, he made sure that we wouldn't run into each other. I'm sure he thought, "WTF how can I get busted cheating on my wife when I'm 10,000 miles (or whatever) away from home?".

    I didn't say anything but when his partner called me just after that, I told him to say hello to his friend for me and mentioned that my wife and I had been on vacation in Thailand and had seen him at a kickboxing match. I didn't say anymore than that.

    Again, that's a coincidence.

    I was in Hong Kong, waiting in a line to get on a ferry and most everyone around me was from Hong Kong. The people just in front of me were talking about Seattle, they were from Seattle, I live in Seattle.

    It's odd but it's a coincidence.

    I lived in Spokane for a while. One morning I was driving to a ski slope and I hit a patch of black ice. I swerved back and forth and knew that the writing was on the wall, within a few seconds I would be going off the road just due to the resonance or swerving pattern and I did.

    There was a lot of snow everywhere, the embankment was steep, I was going about 50 mph. I wasn't hurt, the car wasn't damaged and a tow truck pulled me and I continued on to the ski slope.

    One other time I hit black ice, did a 360 (like a stunt driver) and when I was headed straight the ice ended and I continued driving. It was just luck that it happened like that.

    I know a guy who had something similar happen to him on a mountain road in NC. He is religious though. His line of thinking is that "I know I'm not that good of a driver so God must have been looking out for me that day".

    Both of us would have been off the road if that had happened 10 times, we would be off the road 9 times. It's not that God would look out for him one time but not the other 9 times.

    It's all coincidence.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2024
  8. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Yeah...those seem like meaningless coincidences. Not really amazing and meaningful synchronicities like the ones I've posted here.

    Here's another amazing set of synchronicities experienced by Professor Dean Radin back in 2000. Mere random coincidence that was bound to happen eventually because it never happens? Nope..

    https://www.google.com/search?q=dean radin synchronicity experience&rlz=1C1CHZL_enUS699US699&oq=dean radin synchronicity experience&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUyBggAEEUYOTIHCAEQIRigATIHCAIQIRigATIHCAMQIRigATIHCAQQIRigATIHCAUQIRigAdIBCjMwMTgyajBqMTWoAgCwAgA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:e78ffbc7,vid:6LUEE6dzPRw,st:0
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2024
  9. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    You can categorize them as you like.
  10. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    We all categorize in order to better understand reality. Tks for your permission.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2024
  11. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I'm just saying, we agree to disagree.
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.”
    Albert Einstein
  13. Pinball1970 Valued Senior Member

    Richard Feynman grabs hold of a colleague enthusiastically as they pass each other on way to class.

    Feynman: You will never guess what happened to me this morning?

    Colleague: What?

    Feynman: Absolutely nothing!

    It was his way of saying that nothing= coincidence.
    Same thing but we make a deal of the latter.
  14. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    I like the probabilities exercise where you have a room full over people (picture a large auditorium) and the speaker has already written out a bunch of single digit numbers.

    The audience has pencil and paper and the speaker tells them to guess what the first number was that he wrote down (1-10). He tells them his number and asks for a show of hands of everyone who guessed correctly.

    He tells them those who guessed correctly can stay in the game but the others are out. They repeat this again and there is another show of hands. Each time the show of hands gets smaller and smaller. Eventually there is just one person left.

    Maybe this went on for 10 guesses (if the audience was large enough). Some might say that it is amazing that one person could correctly guess all 10 numbers in order.

    Of course, this had to happen and it would happen every time. It would also probably never be the same person who won each "game".

    This is similar to bringing out the guy, as an expert, who correct called the top of the last stock market bull market. The guy who is the "hero" in one bull market is never the same guy as the "hero" of the next bull market.

    Some might say that a guy who could correctly "predict" 10 numbers correctly in a row like that must be extraordinary and that it couldn't just be a coincidence. Of course, it couldn't be anything else and if you run this experiment you will get the same results every time.
  15. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    "Take, for example, one of Joseph Mazur's favorite coincidence stories, about the 19th-century French poet Emile Deschamps.

    As a teenager, Deschamps meets a man with a strange name, Monsieur de Fortgibu. De Fortgibu is an immigrant from England, and he introduces Deschamps to a very English dessert: plum pudding.

    Ten years go by. One day, Deschamps passes a Paris restaurant that has plum pudding on the menu. He goes inside, only to be told the last of the plum pudding was just sold to a gentleman sitting in the back.

    "And the waiter calls out loud, 'Mr. de Fortgibu, would you be willing to share your plum pudding with this gentleman?' " tells Mazur.

    Years pass, and Deschamps is at a dinner party with some friends.

    The host announces that an unusual dessert will be served. You guessed it — plum pudding. Deschamps jokingly says that one of the guests at the party must be Monsieur de Fortgibu.

    "Well, soon the doorbell rings and Mr. de Fortgibu is announced," says Mazur. "And he enters, he's an old man by now, but Deschamps recognizes him. And Mr. de Fortgibu looks around and he realizes that he's in the wrong apartment." He was invited to a dinner party — but not there."--- https://www.npr.org/2017/05/08/527442620/magic-or-math-the-appeal-of-coincidences-and-the-reality
  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    I don't absolutely rule out the possibility of flurries of seemingly connected coincidences signifying something bizarre -- especially those that suddenly cluster after a long drought of no or few well-distributed coincidences.

    But there will always (or usually) be natural explanations available, just as the authors of future simulated realities would either disguise by means of or work through the artificial world's own regulatory system to deliver anonymous influences, messages or revelations from the "outside".

    The power of probability to wash away the initial luster of almost anything being "remarkable" was demonstrated by how Karl Pearson snuffed out (in his field of expertise) even the idea that there is literal causation afoot in the universe (according to Judea Pearl). For Pearson, the apparent predictability of events (predictable in theory at least) was due to their statistical likelihood of occurring rather than reliable generative forces and agencies (causes) governing changes in the environment. (Or, put another way, he had no need of that unnecessary "metaphysical hypothesis of causation.")


    Judea Pearl: Pearson categorically denied the need for an independent concept of causal relation beyond correlation. He held this view throughout his life and, accordingly, did not mention causation in ANY of his technical papers. His crusade against animistic concepts such as "will" and "force" was so fierce and his rejection of determinism so absolute that he EXTERMINATED causation from statistics before it had a chance to take root.

    It took another 25 years and another strong-willed person, Sir Ronald Fisher, for statisticians to formulate the randomized experiment - the only scientifically proven method of testing causal relations from data, and which is, to this day, the one and only causal concept permitted in mainstream statistics.

    And that is roughly where things stand today... If we count the number of doctoral theses, research papers, or textbooks pages written on causation, we get the impression that Pearson still rules statistics...
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2024
  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

  18. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    It only takes a few Google searches to see people going overboard with an obsession with coincidences in their lives. Claims made by New Age gurus about coincidentally repeating numbers called "angel numbers" containing special messages from the universe and so forth. That's why I temper my amazement at the synchronicities in my life with a cautious acknowledgement of the very human tendency to seize upon common themes as objective patterns of happening. Not everything is a sign from the great beyond. There's real randomness and chance going on all the time. Which only tends to make the occasional really timely synchronicities all the more noteworthy.
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2024
  19. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

  20. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Everybody is always trying to attribute all manner of quotations to Einstein, because it lends them authority. Whenever I come across one I do not know, I always try to check. 9 times out of 10 there is no evidence he ever said whatever it is.

    The actual French c.19th sources of this quotation, or something close to it, were quite interesting, I thought. I was reminded of that apocryphal exchange between Napoleon and Laplace, about God.
    Magical Realist likes this.

Share This Page