coincidences, statistics

How Skeptics Misapply the Law of Truly Large Numbers

The fact that there are 7 billion people in this world means that some pretty mind-boggling coincidences are likely to happen to a lot of people just by chance. But does that mean that chance is necessarily the best explanation for ALL the coincidences and synchronicities we experience? It doesn’t. I explain why in a guest editorial I wrote for Dr. Bernard Beitman’s Psychology Today blog.

I’ve also written about this topic in even greater detail in my book The Source and Significance of Coincidences: A Hard Look at the Astonishing Evidence and in a scholarly paper recently published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Scientific Exploration.

3 thoughts on “How Skeptics Misapply the Law of Truly Large Numbers”

  1. Love the topic of synchronicity. I have difficulty explaining the vast amount of synchronicities I experience on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. I fumble through my logical explanation and two diverging paths emerge, on one side is it I that creates or am attuned to these coincidences or is it something that’s pervading this physical realm (paranormal) that is telling me something, or Both? I lean towards the latter, but then I ask myself why am I being shown something or better yet, why are miraculous events occuring for me often? My heart knows that its something speaking to me, but why? Even yet I find myself to be extremely, illogically lucky. Not winning the lottery lucky, but everyday luck, things seem to fall in my direction, even negative events play out as being positive. This could be a product of my psychological disposition or my attuned nature, but I really don’t think so. What I find most difficult about my philosophical understanding of synchronicity and luck is why me? Why do I see it or seem to have it? Do I create it through some psychological disorder I have? Or is something looking out for me? Deep in my heart I feel that the pervasiveness of this ‘thing’ is on my side, that it’s speaking to ‘me’ but why? Moreover why doesn’t it help others who need it more than I? The answer I’ve been working on is its like a radio. God’s radio or Pervasive Force’s radio, whatever you want to call it, is always playing, our physiological evolution has evolved to disallow our antennas to fully hear this radio, even more difficult are those that can hear it have a very difficult time articulating and believing it exist and that our egotistic self constantly attempts to dissolve the message as illogical and crazy, as does Western culture attempt to dissuade those of us that have more sensitive antennas that we have a form of megalomania or psychosis, and medicate. Other cultures put a premium on these individuals and there ability to hear now and in the past. Mindful meditation and other things help to quell the ego, but I am more and more coming to the conclusion that this is the nature of the ego, to force us to tune out this signal amongst other things. If the majority of us were tuned in we’d all go the way of a saber-tooth’s lunch evolutionarily speaking. That’s the nature of ego, why it exists, but it has evolved and pervaded our psyche and metapsyche (culture) to become a very powerful force that manifests itself into the worst parts of what we are doing to each other and this world. I grapple with this dichotomy often that at times I think I am a sage, and other days a madman. Sorry for the ramble but I fell upon your article by chance (lol) and was very intrigued by your rigorous study into the phenomenological absurdness of coincidence, chance, luck, synchronicity etc. Awesome to see this getting more scientific inspection because I think for the longest time this hasn’t gotten the scrutiny it deserves because it’s been chalked up as pseudoscience or crackpot science, when in fact it might be the most important to understanding the nature of our reality and our existence within this reality. Will be reading much more of your work soon! Thanks Doc.

    1. Thanks for commenting, Alex! I am struck by your last name–are you aware of the early 20th-century Austrian biologist Paul Kammerer? He wrote a book called Das Gesetz der Serie (The Law of Series), about his investigation of the numerous coincidences that he encountered in his own life, and is fairly well known among those who study coincidences.

      Your dilemma about understanding your own coincidences is a dilemma that I myself have grappled with, and is a major part of the reason I wrote my book The Source and Significance of Coincidences. I hope you’ll find it helpful if you end up reading it!

      1. Yes! 10 years ago I had a girlfriend for a very short time who had a book about synchronicity and I started reading it, and was introduced to the early theories from Kammerer, and then Jung and Pali. Definitely struck me as an uncanny coincidence especially given the nature of the coincidence of finding the book, and the probability of that happening in regard to the questions I was asking myself at the time. Might be one of the more powerful coincidences in my life, which I have yet to fully unravel it’s significance.

        I definitely plan on reading your book soon as well! Thanks for the reply.

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