Take 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.
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.
|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.
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.