Our on-line friend, Bernard Beitman, author of Connecting Coincidences, has a new article out on Psychology Today’s web page. Bernard, through his academic work on synchronicity at the University of Virginia, where he is a visiting professor, has nudged the mainstream journal to publish (at least online) non-materialistic views of coincidence.
In his latest article, Bernard contends that the most common coincidences involve people interacting with media. “The chances are high for these coincidences because we so often interact with various media,” he writes.
“Media coincidences vary in their probability. Thinking of a popular song and then hearing it on the radio has a high probability. Thinking about an old song and then hearing it on the radio has a lower probability especially if you are not listening to an oldies station. The lower the probability, the more likely something besides random chance is contributing to the coincidence.
He notes that the 1,500 plus respondents to his Weird Coincidence Survey reported that the most common of coincidences are: “I think of an idea and hear or see it on the radio, TV, or Internet” and “I think of a question only to have it answered by an external source (i.e. radio, TV, or other people) before I can ask it.”
Bernard also included a personal example.
“4/30/13: I am about to write the human GPS (Geospatial Positioning System) section of the theory chapter for my book Connecting with Coincidence. I am trying to explain the many coincidences that suggest that we can find our way to people, things, or ideas that we need without consciously knowing how. I am looking for brain-based evidence for human GPS.
“Bored and frustrated, I switch over to the online New York Times. On the front page is an article about grid cells which help rats map themselves in space—the possible brain basis for our GPS-like abilities.
“Located in the entorhinal cortex, which is near the hippocampus, grid cells provide neural maps of the places a rat has visited. The discovery of grid cells shows that we may be constantly creating maps for our territories—we may have a built-in GPS.
“I had a question. It was answered when I needed it by online media.
“The probability of finding just what I needed right when I needed it was pretty low. The low probability pressures us to look for an explanation beyond random chance. It appears that my own GPS system led me to what I needed just when I needed it.”
Bernard’s willingness to look for a reason or process for meaningful coincidences takes him well beyond the statisticians who contend it’s all random and meaningless.
Equally intriguing is how he sees media as a key link between us and coincidence.
“I believe there is yet more to this human mind-media connection. The vastly expanding internet to which we are increasingly paying attention is absorbing our minds. We are becoming part of its connections; each of us is a node among huge numbers of other nodes in this vast system. The common occurrence of media-mind coincidences is another indicator of the increasingly close connection between media and human minds.”
Bernard finishes his article with a supporting example from Jane Clifford of Wales, who visits here frequently with her often startling synchronicities.
“Jane Clifford reported on Facebook I’ve had astonishing synchronicities all my life usually involving events in books exactly matching events or conversations in my life. The most recent involving TV. I was telling a friend on the phone I had watched a sparrowhawk kill a bird right by my house and as I was telling her a sparrowhawk killing a bird appeared on the tv screen!” (12.2.16)