We’ve written about this topic before, usually somewhat disparagingly, since synchronicity hasn’t favored well in the world of traditional science.
Now comes a paper called Synchronicity Studies, by Bernard D. Beitman, MD, a visiting professor of psychiatry at the University of Virginia. Beitman, you might recall, is the author a series of studies of synchronicity that were published in the December 2011 issue of Psychiatric Annals, and reviewed here. The paper accompanied those studies, and Dr. Beitman has asked us to read and comment on it. He would also like to receive comments from others.
Beitman makes three interesting points near the beginning of the paper. He notes that one out of three people notice coincidences taking place in their lives. He adds that reports of coincidental events seem to be increasing. His third point: “Many people, especially people with scientific training, dismiss coincidences as simply a matter of chance: accidents or anomalies generated by randomness.”
He goes on to say that such a dismissal without a review of evidence is hardly scientific and he calls for the establishment of a new transdisciplinary field called Coincidence Studies. He describes three types of coincidence: synchronicity, serendipity, and seriality. Just as Carl Jung coined the term synchronicity to describe meaningful coincidence, Beitman has coined a term, “simulpathity,” which incorporates empathy with coincidence. We’ve written about planetary empaths – people who feel earthquakes and other disasters as they happen or shortly before they happen – and their experiences might be an example of simulpathity.
Beitman discusses the environments in which synchronicity occurs and this part of his paper bears a striking resemblance to what we wrote about in 7 Secrets: that synchronicity occurs frequently during times of major transitions in our lives. He also mentions a personal experience that may have led him into Jungian territory: a choking episode that coincided with what was happening to his father as he choked to death.
Beitman refers to ‘coincidence-prone’ people, an interesting concept. He says such people tend to be self-referential, intuitive, emotional, optimistic, and meaning-seeking. We have quite a few coincidence-prone folks visiting this blog. Creative people experience synchronicities frequently because synchronicity is part of the creative process.
There’s much more. It’s a long article. If you want to get analytical about synchronicity, this article won’t let you down. Here’s an example:
“The resolution of conflicts among coincidence theories could take three forms. One possibility is that a superordinate theory will encompass all others, explaining all instances of weird coincidence. A second possibility is that different theories may account for different types of coincidences. A third possibility is that each theory explains one aspect of a meaningful coincidence.”
From the academic perspective, there’s a need for theory to explain meaningful coincidences, and justify the concept of coincidence studies. Beitman should be congratulated for his efforts. After all, most academics consider people who take such co-incidents seriously to be dabbling in magical thinking, a term related to superstitious beliefs or behavior. Probably the only subject currently more tarnished than coincidence in the academic realm is the study of UFOs.
Beitman also talks about the idea of being able to predict a coincidence. That sounds suspiciously like applying cause and effect to a phenomenon that essentially is a window to an underlying reality that exists outside of cause and effect, outside of linear time and three-dimensional space. The bottom line is that it would probably take a synchronicity to predict a coincidence!
All of that said, coincidence studies could serve as an important vehicle for studying synchronicity in all its myriad forms. We would like to see how such a study would illuminate the experiences of planetary empaths. Perhaps such a study could somehow make use of their often painful experiences , save lives, and help empaths to focus their abilities in a way that can predict the location of catastrophic events.
Beitman is curious about how to energize people who are helped in some way by coincidence so that a tipping point can be reached to bring synchronicity into major public awareness and academic study. Specifically, here are his points/questions:
1) How can we gain enough energy to reach the tipping point into public and academic awareness?
2) What parts of the Coincidence Studies paper do you resonate with and what seems to need developing and what seems wrong?
3) The Coincidence Studies paper is a Manifesto–it outlines the future of a new field. What is needed to help this new field grow and flourish?
4) How can you help?
There’s a second paper that was published in EdgeScience Magazine which you can download for free. Click the link above, then the PDF link for issue 9. This article is much longer and talks about involving “citizen scientists” in the research of synchronicity.
So here we are, people from all walks of life, different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and spiritual beliefs who experience synchronicity frequently, learn from it, are illuminated by it. How can we help in the scientific/academic exploration of this phenomenon? How can science expand our understanding?