Why do coincidences seem to happen all the time?


Don’t you find it weird that your life seems to be filled with coincidences? Like when you go to the grocery store and end up hiding down the aisles from an ex, or how The Simpsons seem to have predicted every major event, ever. Perhaps there is more to these coincidences than meets the eye, and here is what science has to say about them.

Photo: BURST

Is it just pure mathematics?

One reason why we find coincidences so often is because our brains are preprogrammed to bring order to the chaos that is life on Earth. Many scientists agree that the reason why we find these coincidences in everyday life is because our brains need a reason for things to happen. In fact, many coincidences simply pass us by because we weren’t paying attention.

New Ideas in Psychology printed an article that claimed coincidences are just consequences of our minds trying to find some kind of structure in this random world. Magda Osman, an experimental psychologist, claims the nature of consequences mean that the more we notice them, the more they continue to appear to us.

Navigating the world

Osman claims the coincidences we discover help us to navigate the world we live in. Noticing the pattern is one thing, but more often than not we give these coincidences extra meaning. Dates, for instance, are a huge source of coincidences because we usually have meaning associated with them. It could be birthdays, the date of your graduation, or an anniversary that sticks out in your mind, and once it does you’re likely to find coincidences linked to them.

Noticing unusual coincidences can make us think there is something overly special about them, but David Spiegelhalter, a risk researcher at Cambridge University, says they are nothing but chance. Spiegelhalter says that in a group of 23 people there is a 50/50 chance that two of them will share the same birthday. They might think that an amazing coincidence, but the risk researcher says it’s just mathematical law.

Photo: BURST

Creating your own coincidences

David Hand, a mathematician, says we can learn to cultivate our own coincidences to notice them more often. Although he claims people who believe in the paranormal or describe themselves as spiritual or religious are more likely to spot them, we can all find coincidences. He says that coincidences tend to happen to those who are mindful and who notice things more often.

To help improve your chances of finding coincidences, Hand says to keep your senses open to them while going about your daily routine. Spiegelhalter recommends talking to strangers if you want to find more coincidences in your life. He asks how you’re supposed to know your neighbor was born in the same hospital as you if you never speak to them. Most importantly, write down any coincidences you find, then you’ll have a record of them to see if they keep repeating themselves or not.

Coincidences tend to happen because we’re looking for them and the more we notice them, the more they keep happening. Scientists argue that coincidences are nothing but our minds putting order to the chaos around us, making the connections seem more romantic than they really are.