How can coincidences be explained? The standard answers are God/Universe and random chance. The trouble with these answers is that they exclude you and me.
We have something to do with creating coincidences. First, a conscious mind needs to notice them. How else do we participate in coincidence formation?
We sometimes use coincidences to help solve our own psychological problems as suggested by psychoanalyst Gibbs Williams.
How do we explain the not uncommon experience of feeling the pain of a loved one at a distance? Or knowing that something specific will happen or is happening some distance away?
How do we explain the reports from Winston Churchill of his somehow avoiding danger:
As a lowly member of his high school class, Winston took a preliminary examination to be placed in a much-sought-after position. The exam seemed to require special effort on his part because so many people better prepared had failed it. He knew that, among other things, they would be asked to draw a map of a specific country. The students didn’t know which country, however. The night before the exam, he put the names of all the countries in the world in a hat and drew out New Zealand. He carefully memorized that map. The first question on the exam was, “Draw a map of New Zealand.” He received very high marks. The test got him into the military, which provided an essential step toward his becoming prime minister of England.
After escaping from being a prisoner in South Africa, he knocked on right door when there were many others that would have resulted in re-capture.
During WWI, he twice walked away right before a shell hit where he was.
During WWII he got into the other side of the car because something told him "stop" and "open the door on the other side." Otherwise it would have been death by car bombing.
About these instances he said, “"I have a feeling that some guiding hand has interfered.” (p. 138-140 Inglis)
We use words for these experiences like Extra Sensory Perception or Psi but we do not have an accepted theory to explain them. Jungians want to include psi under synchronicity—an acausal connecting principle. There is much ambiguity in this theory. We are left with common human experiences that have no theory behind them. Without a good theory, skeptics have freer reign.
The Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina is dedicated to understanding telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, psychokinesis, and survival (life after death). Founded by J.B. Rhine, the Rhine is an independent, non-profit parapsychology research center that takes a scientific approach to anomalous phenomena and exceptional human experience. It is the oldest and one of the most reliable source of information on the science of parapsychology in the United States.
Dr. Rhine's daughter, Sally Feather Rhine, is continuing her father's paradigm shifting research. Listen to her and colleague Susan Freeman discussing their work here. (Susan reported a coincidence related to this episode of the radio program Connecting with Coincidence. The day before the show, someone called the Rhine to talk about her coincidences. The woman repeated the word "coincidence" more times than Susan had ever heard. The day right before she was to appear on the Coincidence Show! A foreshadowing....")