Take The Coincidence Quiz

                               The Coincidence Quiz

 Psychiatrist Dr. Bernard D. Beitman is the first person since Carl Jung to systematize the study of coincidence. Dr. Beitman is a visiting professor at the University of Virginia and former chair of the department of psychiatry at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He attended Yale Medical School and completed a psychiatric residency at Stanford. Much of what is in this article came from his website and he created the coincidence survey.

is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection. There is usually a correspondence in nature or in time of occurrence.  Other words used to describe this experience are serendipity, synchronicity (a word invented by Carl Jung), fate, happenstance, fortuity, chance, accident, providence, conjunction, coexistence, co-occurrence. That is a lot to throw at people if they are trying to understand this concept, but if this has not been experienced personally, it is a difficult one to describe.

The study of coincidence has a lot to do with probability.  Coincidence is what happens by chance, so there is a probability that it would have or could have happened based upon mathematics and the study of probability. Supposedly, if given enough time, anything could happen at least once. It may take billions of years, but, eventually, it would happen.   It’s statistically probable that among all the events and circumstances in the entire world some such occurrence would happen.  Some would say that people create the situation in some way or add meaning to it.  Perhaps they are being guided by a divine force. Maybe all of these possibilities could be true at once; they are not mutually exclusive.

However, I think that is beyond the probable and rational as an idea that actually works in the real world as we experience it. Dr. Beitman said that dismissing coincidence as a matter of chance “assumes that coincidences are inherently meaningless or insignificant. Without supporting evidence, this assumption is hardly scientific.” Sure, if you toss a handful of coins on the ground billions of times, (would you live long enough to do that?) maybe, one of those times, all the coins will line up in a neat little row. But what are the chances that this sort of thing would also happen over and over again regarding all coincidence? What is the probability of that? Doubtful, perhaps?

Here are some statistics for you.

Charles Frederick Mosteller was one of the most eminent statisticians of the 20th century. Mosteller and co-author Persi Diaconis, an American mathematician and former professional magician, summarize the probabilities of multiple people having the same birthday: Among 18 people, there’s a 50-50 chance that three people will have the same birthday.  Among 88 people, it is more likely than not that two people will have the same birthday.  Among 187 people, it is more likely than not that four people will have the same birthday.

As for winning the lottery twice, it may not be as improbable as you would think. Odds are 1 in 30 of winning the lottery twice within a four-month period, said Mosteller, citing a study by Stephen Samuels and George McCabe of the Department of Statistics at Purdue University.

But what about the coincidences in which multiple factors seem to stack up?

Dr. Beitman said probability “is not an explanation, but instead is a description of what happens.”
Coincidences have much to do with recall and recognition, said Beitman. Even how a story of coincidence is told can influence how surprising it is. Humans tend to seek patterns.

He noted the ways in which both Einstein’s theory of relativity and quantum physics take individual perspective into account. The theory of relativity shows that the position and speed of the observer affects measurement outcomes. Quantum physics has shown the act of observation can physically affect the object being observed. 

The ability to sense meaning in coincidence has a lot to do with the ability of a person to both observe objective reality and his/her own conscious thoughts and inner feelings at the same time. This ability makes the recognition of coincidence more probable. “Intuition, being self-referential (thinking what is going on around you is all about you), seeking meaning in life, and high emotion," all make the recognition of coincidence more probable, according to his website, Coincider.com.

In Dr. Beitman's study, he concludes that there is not yet a place in systematic, scientific research for subjectivity and for human consciousness. Meanings gleaned from coincidence depend upon the mind. Science is yet to admit to the validity of anything which happens outside of observable data. Studying things like coincidence and emotion, the mind and mental images, are all currently outside of scientific research; it's all too subjective to be science. The job of researchers like Dr. Beitman is to find a systematic place in scientific research for subjectivity and for human consciousness; to develop methods and an accompanying technical language that includes and respects the subjective element built into the coincidence.

If you are interested in reading further about coincidence, Go to coincider.com, which is Dr. Beitman's website on coincidence. Also go to http://suzanneclores.com/extraordinaryproject/ "The Extraordinary Project." It is an ongoing study by Suzanne Clores that examines the experiences of people who claim to have had coincidences in their lives that hold meaning for them. I have written about the Extraordinary Project in my blog.
If you go to this link: http://coincider.com/weird-coincidence-survey/

  you can take the survey from the website and submit it. You may also submit a personal story of coincidence or synchronicity.
Or, you can take the survey here to find out your score for your own information.

Coincidence Survey:

1. Gender: _____Male     _____Female

2. Age:_____

3. Please rate your spirituality. 1=very low 7=very high.     _____

4. Please rate the following statements based upon  your experience.
1=Never     2=Seldom     3=Occasionally     4=Often     5=Frequently

  •  _____After experiencing a meaningful coincidence, I analyze the meaning of my experience.  
  • _____I advance in my work/career/education by being at the right place at the right time. 
  • _____I am introduced to people who unexpectedly further my work/career/education.
  • _____I experience strong emotions or physical sensations that were simultaneously experienced at a distance by someone I love.
  • _____I need something and the need is met without my having to do anything.
  • _____I run into a friend at an out-of-the-way place.
  • _____I think of a question only to have it answered by external media (i.e. tv, radio, people) before I can ask it.
  • _____I have a idea and I hear, read or see it on radio, TV or Internet.
  •  _____I think of calling someone, only to have that person unexpectedly call me.
  • _____I think of someone and that person unexpectedly drops by my house or office or passes me in the street or hall.
  • _____Meaningful coincidence helps me determine my educational path.
  • _____When my phone rings I know who is calling without checking my cell phone screen or having personalized ring tones.

5. Enter your total here._____

6. Select your score on the weird coincidence range to see how sensitive you are.

_____Above 43: Ultra sensitive

_____39 - 43: Very sensitive

_____35-38: Sensitive

_____27 - 34: Average

_____23-26: Somewhat closed

_____22-19: Closed

_____19 and below: Ultra-closed


There is a vast body of knowledge on coincidence.  It's way too much for this article. There is much to read and much to learn on this fascinating subject.

Suggestion: Leave me your score in the comments section. I would love to know how you did.

Information and theory on coincidence and the coincidence survey is from Dr. Beitman's website coincider.com. 
 Biographical data on Dr. Beitman is from his website. 
Other biographical information is from Wikipedia.


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