Wkimedia commons
Japanese Skeleton Shrimp morphology
Source: Wkimedia commons

Currently coincidences are lumped under one umbrella but not all coincidences are created equal!  The new discipline of Coincidence Studies begins with defining and establishing the primary categories of coincidences. In this way we can investigate differences and similarities among coincidence types. By creating the primary categories, we will find, among other things, that different types of coincidences have different processes, explanations and uses.

The primary methods used to categorize coincidences:

* Form involves classifying objects in a group by shape. In biology, for example, morphology deals with the form and structure of animals and plants. Like zoology and botany coincidences can be categorized by their common shapes. Shape differences help sharpen our understanding of function and cause. Does the coincidence involve a mental event or not? Are there more than 2 events involved? We will further explore the forms of coincidences later in this article. 

* Process refers to the various sequences of events that help create the coincidence like “sitting down next to a stranger”.

* Explanations include possible causes the two most prominent of which are God and randomness.

* Uses covers the potential impact of coincidences including advice, support and supplying just what is needed.

Mind and Thing: The Basis for Form

A coincidence is usually defined as the surprising intersection of two or more similar events with no apparent cause.

The events making up a coincidence involve either an intrapsychic event (Mind) and/or an observable event in the environment (Thing). These two possibilities create three categories: Mind-Thing, Mind-Mind and Thing-Thing.

I.  Mind-Thing: the intersection of a mental event with an environmental event. Mind-thing coincidences include but are not limited to:

* Synchronicity: a mental pattern matches an environmental event possibly offering significant psychological change as illustrated by Jung’s scarab.        

* Serendipity: unexpectedly finding needed people, things or ideas as illustrated by the amazing series of events involving the discovery and manufacture of penicillin.

* Precognition: imagining something to happen and then finding that it happens

II.  Mind-Mind: the intersection of two mental events. Two (or more) people experience a similar thought and/or feeling at a distance usually around the same time:

* Telepathy: two people simultaneously have similar dreams or thoughts

* Simulpathity: experiencing the pain of a loved one at a distance

III. Thing-Thing: the appearance of two or more unexpected, similar, environmental events. Also called seriality. The difference between mind-thing and thing-thing is that a 3rd person can observe the matches. 

Specific examples: Simultaneous discoveries, Doppelgangers, a long string of similar symbols (e.g. monkeys).

people vary in the coincidence forms they tend to see. 

Morphology subsets 

A. A barrage of coincidences: suddenly a great many coincidences enter a person's life

B. Created by the conscious intention of the coincider. Consciously intended coincidences include:

1) Creative visualization: imagining a desired something and then it happens.

             psychokinesis: moving an object with mental intention

2) Non-Coincidence: person expects a certain match, and it does not come.

3) Staged Coincidences: person stages a coincidence to create a positive expectation in someone else to get something out of them. (See Bernie Madoff in Connecting with Coincidence) and trolling for clicks to take over your computer 

4) Made-up coincidences--A Nazi concentration camp, a teenage boy prisoner, a teenage girl outside the fence, and an apple. She feeds him an apple and they meet on a blind date years later. Also false teeth in a cod. Fisherman drops false teeth into the ocean and later someone catches a cod with false teeth, supposedly. 

4) The mantic arts (divination) like tarot cards and I Ching. The seeker is consciously creating a potentially meaningful coincidence between one's personal situation and the cards or coins. 

5) Reincarnation research. Researchers record details of people described by young children and then actively search for the past existence of such a person. A strong similarity becomes a coincidence in need of explanation. Reincarnation pairing resembles a doppelganger in the current life.

6) Near Death Experiences: Researchers intentionally test the hypothesis that there is a similarity among the reports of people on the brink of death and returning to life. These reports form a serial coincidence. 

7) Coincidences in novels, movies, songs and plays. Casa Blanca, Oedipus at the Cleft Way

C. Coincidences without a conscious human intention--they seem to exist without human involvement in making them happen

Cosmic Coincidences: Carbon-based life on Earth, depends on a narrow range of many different cosmic constants. This is not a similarity-based coincidence. This coincidence is that all these variables are "not too hot or not too cold but just right" for human existence.  

Continuous Variables: Probability, Similarity, and Temporality

* Mind-Thing, Mind-Mind and Thing-Thing are discrete variables, meaning they are distinct from from each other. Think of 2 or more marbles.  Most coincidences can be placed in one of these groups. Other descriptive features involve continuous variables. Continuous variables are connected to each other. Think of a road. These features include: 

* Probability--the likelihood of a coincidence is calculated by multiplying the base rates of each event components. Some coincidences are highly likely while others are ultra-low probability. 

* Similarity of coincidence components---exactly the same or is there only some degree of similarity? Maybe you were thinking of a song, "Hey Jude" and it started playing on the radio, an exact match. Or maybe you were thinking of "Hey Jude" but another Beatles song started playing instead: a degree of similarity but not an exact match. 

* Temporality--the time span between the appearance of the components. Component events may have seconds or years between them. You may text someone who is texting you about the same thing at almost the same time. Or you may save someone life who years later saves yours. 

Future posts will address the other three categories: process, explanation and use. 

You are reading

Connecting with Coincidence

The Statistician Sees Only Probability

A very low probability event involving him still fails to sway.

Emotions Drive Synchronicities

Cognitive explanations for many coincidences need to be supplemented by emotion.

Refining the Definition of Synchronicity

For a coincidence to be a synchronicity, it must touch the heart.