What do you think of coincidences?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by wegs, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    It's not so much a matter of whether the personal meanings are true / false, since they might not even be amenable to testing (outside of science, IOW, not the least due to their subjectivity). But whether or not they are useful to the person construing significance in those events. Some of them could also be dangerous, alright -- but that goes back to keeping the two sides of the coin separate. We allow the the manifested world to explain itself with its own internal story / framework (what science does), because the personal meanings are not for that public reality but for thee. (Or whoever among us is involved with speculating about slash discerning _X_ significance in regard to the coincidences.)

    There can be a potential handful of eccentric scientists when it comes to almost any topic, such as Benard Beitman below. But the majority (like David Spielgelhalter) will chalk coincidences up to ordinary explanations like probability, egocentrism, selective bias, and other factors.

    Even Beitman's research has found that the cognition of some people is more prone to searching for patterns and meanings than, say, skeptical personality types who exhibit that tendency less. That is, he seems to likewise wind-up with an "in the eye of the beholder" take on coincidences -- of how interpretation differs between certain groups of individuals.

    Such reliance upon subjectivity is at odds with how science is pre-set to operate and what it values. But on the flip-side of the coin, it is the individual who prescribes and seeks what is important in his/her life. Not the impersonal activity of science.

    Julie Beck, Coincidences and the Meaning of Life: [...] “Oh, those guys and their birthdays really get me mad,” says Bernard Beitman, a psychiatrist and visiting professor at the University of Virginia, and author of the forthcoming book Connecting With Coincidence. That’s not the way the average person would frame that question, he says. When someone asks “What are the odds?” odds are they aren’t asking “What are the odds that a coincidence of this nature would have happened to anyone in the room?” but more like “What are the odds that this specific thing would happen to me, here and now?” And with anything more complicated than a birthday match, that becomes almost impossible to calculate. [...] For Beitman, 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. “I know there’s something more going on than we pay attention to,” he says. “Random is not enough of an explanation for me.” [...]

    It’s true that people are fairly egocentric about their coincidences. The psychologist Ruma Falk found in a study that people rate their own coincidences as more surprising than other people’s. They’re like dreams—mine is more interesting than yours.

    "A coincidence itself is in the eye of the beholder,” says David Spiegelhalter, the Winton professor for the public understanding of risk at the University of Cambridge. If a rare event happens in a forest and no one notices and no one cares, it’s not really a coincidence.

    [...] “Coincidences never happen to me at all, because I never notice anything,” David Spiegelhalter says. “[...] If I’m with a stranger, I don’t try to find a connection with them [...]”

    Beitman in his research has found that certain personality traits are linked to experiencing more coincidences—people who describe themselves as religious or spiritual, people who are self-referential (or likely to relate information from the external world back to themselves), and people who are high in meaning-seeking are all coincidence-prone. People are also likely to see coincidences when they are extremely sad, angry, or anxious.
    http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2016/02/the-true-meaning-of-coincidences/463164/
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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  3. Yazata Valued Senior Member

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    Typically, no. If I did have that kind of feeling, I'd probably suspect that they weren't really coincidences and that there was some connection that I didn't know about. But I wouldn't knowingly and intentionally attribute that connection to the supernatural, occult or paranormal. (Those ideas might still arise though.) For example, if accidents kept happening to me, the consciously rational part of me would probably suspect that I was being careless in some way that I wasn't unaware of. But a more elemental part of me still might get a feeling that some malevolent force was targeting me.

    Human minds have a tendency to seek out patterns... even if there's no pattern to be found beyond coincidence (incidents that we associate together because of similarity or contiguity in time). Imagination and fancy are easily rolled up in it. Part of our humanity is that we invent plots and narratives for the events in our lives. History is the obvious example, but science, myth, superstition and religion are as well. These vary depending on their motivation, justification, interpretive method and degree of critical awareness that we devote to them. But they are all narratives and conceptual schemes that human beings invent to make better sense of the cacophony of events that surround them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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  5. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I don't see accidents repeatedly happening to someone as coincidences though. A coincidence could be that every day you take the same route to work, and you decide to leave just 5 minutes later one particular day, and you pass a terrible accident - and that might have been you, but on that specific day, you were delayed, and missed that accident by 5 minutes. Of course, there could be a myriad of other reasons lol But...just giving an example. And then the leap to fate wouldn't seem so out there.


    While your points make sense to me, I don't consider my spiritual beliefs to be "inventions" of my mind.

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  7. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Fate?
    Coincidence?
    Dumb luck?

    If the "coincidence" saved your life, and assuming fate had a hand in it makes you feel special and good about yourself, then choose "fate".

    You will never really know.
    carlos castaneda...The day your tonal lets go of your eyes, the nagual will have won a great battle.
     
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  8. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    That's right! You're so right, we'll never ''really'' know. If one holds any spiritual beliefs though, it could be said that nothing is by chance. But, we won't go there for the sake of this particular thread discussion. lol
     
  9. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Thank you for this explanation, it's really fascinating to me, especially since some of it explains why I tend to ''want'' to see some type of connection in some of the coincidences I've experienced. It's a want maybe? Coincidences can only exist if we will them to, and finding an even deeper meaning within them, is also something that could be construed as wishful thinking. I don't think there is anything wrong with not believing that everything happens by chance, though, because the world seems awfully fine tuned, and aligned in so many ways, to have it all be just the result of a random set of occurrences.
     
  10. The God Valued Senior Member

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    How many people would have experienced coincidence(s) ? Talk around, and almost everyone has a story to tell. So if we take it rationally it boils down to one possible event in one's life with nonzero probabity happening. Not an impossibility when we see the time span and routine.
     
  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Go wherever your mind leads you-----------------------self censorship is perhaps the greatest sin?

    Tonal, Warrior, and Nagual............
    Once, I thought that as I slept, the nagual was active. Something that I needed and couldn't find and thought I had left in another state (lots of anxiety) was the first place I looked the following morning. Did the nagual go and fetch it? Did the dream time lead the conscious mind to where I left it?
    I chose nagual.
    Was that choice correct?
    How opaque is the bubble of your or my tonal?

    Are we really more than we can perceive with the conscious mind?
    Oft times I think ...yes.
     
  12. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    @ Wegs

    Are the coincidences that hapen in you'r life about half good an half not so good... or what.???
     
  13. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    They're usually good.

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  14. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    So do you see coincidences as bein kinda like prayer bein for-filled.???
     
  15. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Not prayer being answered, but more that I see things happening for reasons(?) Not necessarily supernatural reasons, just...reasons. That keen coincidences aren't random, exactly. Not so sure I'd venture into believing in pre-destination, because that presupposes that every major and minor detail in our lives are part of a pre-destined plan. (that our choices didn't play a role)

    I'd like to ask you a question, now. Why do you post your words like that?

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  16. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Yes thats a FAQ... an i just post the way i talk... the way thats comfortable to me.!!!
     
  17. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    lol Okay - it's different, but it'd be boring if we were all the same.

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  18. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    If the reasons ant supernatural... what else is ther.???

    What if you found out pre-destination was true... woud it affect you in a negitive way.???

    O... english ant my first language... im originally from Indiana

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    Thanks... sooner or later everbody comes to love cluelusshusbund

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    As far as i know Tiassa is the last hold out... but i thank hes just playin hard to get

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    Last edited: Aug 18, 2016
  19. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I don't believe that coincidences have meaning. They have explanations but "meaning" is just something subjective that we provide. It's a sunny day. There is no meaning involved. I feel especially alive, romantic, energized or whatever...that's me supplying my own "meaning". It has nothing to do with the sun really.

    I find coincidences to be fun to figure out or to learn more about. That's just another way of saying that learning about the statistics of probability is fun as is learning about how the human mind works.

    The law of very large numbers explains a lot. Also it's important to consider how our mind works. Probililites aren't intuitive to us. We see coincidences and remember them without remembering how many times there were no coincidences.

    We think it's amazing that someone won the lottery yet, somewhere in the world someone is always winning the lottery. We are just surprised when it is us. There is no "meaning" to it however.

    With a large enough population "rare" things are bound to occur all the time.

    There is the birthday paradox that shows how these things just aren't intuitive for us. How large a group of people would you need to get in a room for two of them to have the same birthday?

    People don't completely understand the question and even those who do still guess numbers that are way too high. We think the odds are much greater than they are. The answer as I recall (may be wrong) is about 23. That's when statistically you reach a percentage that is more than 50/50 as in 50.o1%.

    That's because we aren't talking about picking one person's birthday and then finding another with that birthday. We are talking about any two people having the same birthday. We aren't picking which date that is from the beginning.

    Even if that is understood people will still guess large numbers not realizing that we know with 100% certainty that it won't be any more than 366 because there are only 365 days in the year so by the time the 366th person comes into the room there have to be two birthdays that are the same.

    Again from memory but by the time you have 85 or so people you have a 99% chance of having two people with the same birthdays. For 95% probability it is much lower.

    Let's take the example of someone thinking of someone, the phone rings and it's that person. No one considers how many times they think of someone, the phone rings and it isn't that person.

    There is a name given to the following concept and again I can't recall it

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    and that is that our brains can't remember more than about 150 social relationships. We just aren't programmed for it. That's why celebrities can't remember most people they have already met. The other person remembers but the celebrity doesn't because they may have met millions of people.

    In an evolutionary sense, 150 relationships was plenty. We now meet a lot of people so those 150 relationships is a shifting thing. You forget some and acquire others.

    So, if you are thinking about someone, maybe someone from childhood that you rarely see or talk to. It's still likely to be one of only 150 people. So it's not a one in a million chance for them to call. You don't know a million people.

    Now, if you are thinking about them, there is probably something that happened fairly recently that caused that. That is probably connected to the reason that they suddenly decided to call you as well.

    Our minds have hundreds of thoughts a minute. Consider how many thoughts you have had between the time you think about someone, the phone rings and it's them and the time that occurs again. Even if it's every 10 years there's a lot of thoughts that have gone through your mind and only once did it work out in your favor.

    This is the definition of coincidence!

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    These are coincides but they aren't as rare as our mind generally makes them out to be.

    If you aren't trying to find "meaning" in coincidences, if you don't already believe in religion, the supernatural whatever then delving a little deeper into how our mind works and into statistics will answer most of these questions for you.

    Some coincidental things are bound to occur to everyone over a lifetime. It would be more statistically significant if you knew about them in advance and then they happened. As it is, the coincidental event is random.

    I went to grad school in N.C. and had a good friend there who had a brother but I didn't know him. Several years later I was in AZ going to grad school and my friends brother was there. That was a coincident. There are only so many grad schools in the U.S.

    There are only so many brothers with a brother in grad school. It's more likely to happen when everyone is grad school age. There were many other coincidental things that could have occurred that didn't.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2016
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  20. The God Valued Senior Member

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    The another aspect is dramatic impact of the event, being termed as coincidence.

    One of the posters shared a story here. He was to go to some expedition, his car got stuck, and instead a replacement went. The team met with a fatal accident. The news shook him....
     
  21. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I enjoyed reading your response. Maybe there is meaning though in certain (not all) coincidences, why is it always safest to assume that everyday occurrences have no meaning, and that everything is completely random? Maybe your friend's brother being there was a sign for you, of some sort. lol I'm half serious, but it's fun to ponder. These types of things don't need to be taken so seriously, but they're just fun things to think about, to connect.
     
  22. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    I think it's fun as well but I just have no reason to try to apply meaning to events. I live in Seattle and went on vacation once to Phuket, Thailand. No one at work in Seattle knew where I was going. I was married at the time and we went to the beaches of Thailand and one night went 25 miles inland to a Thai kickboxing match in the town of Phuket.

    Sitting right in front of us (it was a large stadium) was an ex-coworker (married) with a Thai prostitute. You could call that karma, a small world or a coincidence but it certainly wasn't what he expected.

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    Stuff happens but to me it makes no sense to read meaning into it because it is so random. Is this "God" sending him a message not to cheat on his wife? Why were messages not sent all the other times he presumably cheated and I wasn't there? What kind of a message was "sending" me to be present? It didn't change anything.

    Usually when reading meaning into these things it raises more questions than it answers and the simplest explanation is that there is no meaning. To me (my own personal bias) it's silly to expect meaning from a natural world.

    There are billions of people here on Earth and there are billions and billions of planets and an almost infinite (or infinite) universe. What kind of force, spirit, God is going to be busy sending obscure signals like this for eternity?

    Maybe things just happen for natural reasons and it's more interesting and entertaining (to me) to learn as much as possible how that really works instead of looking for agency.
     
  23. wegs Matter & Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    Okay, for what it's worth - this could have been a meaningful coincidence designed to have you be cautious going forward of this person. Seriously. Think about this. This person is lying to his wife, is carrying on with a prostitute, and who in the world would have ever been the wiser? And then YOU'RE there. I'm sorry, that is a meaningful coincidence.

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    That above story doesn't seem random.

    It did cause something though. You are still telling the story, so apparently it stayed with you. You didn't just dismiss the story as totally meaningless because you wouldn't be telling us about it, here.

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    Maybe God provides us with intuition, and that is enough to draw conclusions in this natural world. That could be.

    Maybe. Maybe not.
     

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