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Coincidence

Coincidence

Simultaneous occurrences that connect together in a meaningful way. Such events may be the result the same prior cause or the result of sheer chance. Meaningfulness, a somewhat subjective notion, may vary from person to person. One person may see coinciding events as highly significant and another view the same events as merely of mild academic interest. Some unique coincidence may become highly important, even life-changing events, for the person who perceives them.

Unusual coincidences may be determined and assessed by calculating probabilities. When calculation shows that coincidences at a level higher than chance are occurring, and there is apparently no normal agency (error, fraud ) to which the occurrence could be attributed, occult explanations (magic, spirit intervention, clairvoyance, telepathy ) are given, and psychical research may shed light on the problem.

How complex calculating probabilities may be is well illustrated by a curious experience of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle told in his book Through the Magic Door (1907). He was staying in Switzerland and had visited the Gemmi Pass, where a high cliff separates a French from a German canton. On the summit of the cliff was a small inn that was isolated in winter for three months as it became inaccessible during heavy snowfalls. His imagination was stirred and he began to build up a short story of strong antagonistic characters being penned up in the inn, loathing each other, yet utterly unable to get away from each other's society, each day bringing them nearer to a tragedy. As he was returning home through France a volume of Guy Maupassant's Tales came into his hands. The first story he looked at was called "L'Auberge." The scene was laid in the very inn he had visited and the plot was the same as he had imagined, except that Maupassant brought in a savage hound.

Doyle experienced a most unusual coincidence. Maupassant visited the inn and wrote his story. Doyle visited the same place and evolved the same train of thought. He planned a story, then bought a book in France and saved himself from an eventual accusation of plagiarism. Was this also coincidence? He believed it to be more, an intervention by spiritual powers. But there are other explanations. For example, some might suggest that Maupassant's intense feeling about the inn amy have lingered in the psychic atmosphere and led Doyle "magnetically" to the book.

The calculation of probabilities offers little assistance in individual cases. For example, the London newspapers reported on April 1, 1930, that during the evening of the previous day two men, both named Butler, both butchers, were found shot (one in Nottinghamshire, one near London) by their cars. One was named Frederick Henry Butler, and the other David Henry Butler. They were entire strangers, unrelated, and both shot themselves with pistols by the side of their cars. In a case like this there is no chance expectation on which a calculation could be based. The probability is infinitesimal. Even if one in a billion suicides were by two strangers of the same occupation, of the same name, and under the same circumstances, there is still nothing to tell the date at which the occurrence is likely to take place. It may as well happen today as a thousand years hence. The improbability of the coincidence is therefore no barrier against its turning up in one single case.

Many similar cases of bizarre coincidences were collected by Charles Fort and his latter-day disciples. Carl G. Jung discussed the idea of personally significant coincidences under the term synchronicity.

Parapsychology has attempted to study repeatable coincidences and to measure their probability. A similar effort has been attempted in astrological studies. The truth of various astrological statements (e.g., people born under a prominent

Mars tend to be warriors) have been tested by checking the occurrence of various planets in the birth charts of a large number of prominent people.

Sources:

Franz, Marie-Louise von. On Divination and Synchronicity: The Psychology of Meaningful Chance. Toronto: Inner City Books, 1980.

Jung, Carl G. Sychronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle. London: Ark Paperbacks, 1985.

Koestler, Arthur. The Roots of Coincidence. London: Hutchinson, 1972.

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"Coincidence." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Coincidence." Encyclopedia of Occultism and Parapsychology. . Retrieved August 18, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/coincidence

coincidence

co·in·ci·dence / kōˈinsədəns; -ˌdens/ • n. 1. a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection: they met by coincidence. 2. correspondence in nature or in time of occurrence: the coincidence of interest between the mining companies and certain politicians. 3. Physics the presence of ionizing particles or other objects in two or more detectors simultaneously, or of two or more signals simultaneously in a circuit.

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"coincidence." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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coincidence

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"coincidence." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 18 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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