What About Coincidences?

I could define coincidences as simultaneous happenings that set in motion unbelievable connections.

Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung theorized that those remarkable coincidences occur because of “synchronicity,” which he defined as an “acausal connecting principle.”

Austrian biologist Paul Kammerer influenced Jung. Kammerer’s passion was collecting coincidences. He published his collection but never translated it into English. He postulated that waves of “seriality connect all events.”

Albert Einstein called the idea of seriality “interesting and by no means absurd.” In Psychology Today, March 2017 issue, Bernard D. Beitman M.D., published an article called “Seriality vs. Synchronicity: Kammerer vs. Jung.”

From the article: “But Kammer’s approach to coincidence is almost the opposite of Jung’s, who attributed most of the synchronicity to the inner world of the subconscious and psychological “archetypes.” Kammerer believed coincidences happen externally, as a part of a less-obvious ongoing real-world system, and we notice them, more or less selectively, as they rise to the level of our attention.”

Here’s a coincidence that just occurred:

I’m moving to a large rental building in Manhattan, where part of my family already lives. Last weekend, in the building with my daughter and son-in-law, we were waiting for the elevator when my son-in-law mentioned that I might be the oldest person who would be living in the building.

Immediately, the elevator door opened to reveal a stooped-over man, obviously, a resident, looking like he was in his nineties, followed by an elderly female resident coming from the lobby with groceries. She had gray hair, walked with a walker, and was being assisted by a doorman. The three of us laughed at the simultaneous events.

That is an example of what Paul Kammerer would call a “seriality,” stemming from an unknown real-world system, and what we would call a coincidence. The coincidence was that these two separate older folks should appear immediately after my son-in-law’s statement about me being the oldest person.

Here’s another coincidence, in this case, called “Gambler’s Fallacy,” a subset of a coincidence:

My husband loved to shoot Craps, so we spent many vacations at casinos in exotic places. He taught me how to figure the odds and even supplied me with gambling money. It was an unbeatable plan — if I lost the first bankroll, he would provide another one. If I won, I repaid him the bankroll(s), keeping all my winnings. Pretty nice!

“Gambler’s Fallacy” is an incorrect belief that the next roll of the dice is more likely to be six if a six hasn’t shown up for a while. Probability theory teaches us that when throwing dice, there is no connection from one throw to another. Each toss contains the full range of outcomes.

It was after midnight, and I was at the Craps table with my husband. The wee hours in a casino are the times magic happens. It was my turn to throw the dice. I was facing to my left and unaware of the person standing to my right. I rolled a twelve, very rare since both dies have to show six dots.

Twelve and two are the hardest numbers to roll since there is only one way to make them: two sixes or two ones. Other numbers have variations, e.g., the number seven can be five dots +two dots, six dots +one dot, or three dots+four dots. That makes the probability of rolling a seven higher than any other number because it has the most combinations.

A great cheer arose to my right because it seemed my right-hand neighbor had bet a lot of money on twelve showing up before the inevitable seven. I didn’t know about the bet, and superstition has it that it would jinx the toss and prevent it from occurring if I knew.

When something like this happens, the thrower, me, and the winner develop a secret bond with each other, even though we are strangers. I was excited about my part in making his dream happen. He instantly fell in love with me.

It was still my turn. I shook the dice in my palm as gamblers do and hurled them, hoping I wouldn’t throw them too softly or too hard; if the dice fall short of the far wall, the outcome is invalidated. If thrown too hard, the dice may fly off your table into the casino's expanse. I’ve experienced both situations. Both are embarrassing because each would indicate my incompetence. These failures loomed over me as I flung the dice from my hand.

The unthinkable happened. A second twelve popped up; I was amazed. Everyone started cheering, particularly my right-hand neighbor’s friend, who had bet tons of money on my throwing a second twelve. The odds of this happening were huge, so his winning represented serious money.

Once again, I had no inkling of the bet. My neighbor, who loved me, claimed that he “sensed” another twelve coming and tipped off his buddy. So now, I had two gamblers loving me. They both believed that another twelve would not be thrown again for a long time because of Gambler’s Fallacy thinking.

Perhaps the most famous example of the gambler’s fallacy occurred in a roulette game at the Monte Carlo Casino on August 18, 1913, when the ball fell into black 26 times in a row. It was an extremely uncommon occurrence: the probability of a sequence of either red or black occurring 26 times in a row is around 1 in 66.6 million. I don’t know the odds of throwing two twelves in a row, but it must be rare.

Of course, everyone knows of coincidence regarding the World Trade Center’s looking like the number eleven and being taken down on 9/11/2001.

So, what do you believe? Is there a connection between the two older people appearing immediately after my son-in-law's statement, or was it chance? Was there any connection between tossing the dice to twelve, twice in a row, or a random happening?

I believe it’s random, except every once in a while, the mysterious coincidences make me wonder.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Lynn Zimmering

Lynn Zimmering

Well, I’ve done it — I’m ninety! I can hardly believe it myself and still writing. Here’s the deal; I’ll keep writing if you keep reading. Thanks.