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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Synchronicity or Littlewood's Law of Miracles and "Pattern Seeking Behavior"?

Found this photo while doing a google image search of "synchronicity." Source: Working Class Mag
One need not be gorgeous or nude for synchronicity to occur. 
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung gave us the word "synchronicity"  source
"Rand" and I had been involved for almost a year. At its best our email exchange was exhilarating, warming, and fun – the one sunny spot in my Cinderella existence as an impoverished adjunct professor. At its worst, our interaction was merely weird, confusing, and, I knew, an immoral Dead End. Rand was a famous married atheist I had never met. I was eager to make a clean break and move on.

Our relationship was conducted via email. My emails to him were composed and sent from my desk in my apartment.

One Saturday morning, with the new determination to make a clean break from Rand, I got up from the desk and walked to the campus where I work.

I went to a computer in the office and went to an internet dating site. I thought, I need to meet someone else. That will make breaking up with "Rand" go down easier.

The very first photo I saw on the dating site was of a pleasant looking man. I thought, him. He can help me forget Rand.

The photo of the pleasant looking man was small. It was a thumbnail. To enlarge it, you clicked on it. I clicked on the photo and enlarged it. In the larger version of the photo I could see that the pleasant looking man was standing next to Rand.


What are the odds?

Was this mere coincidence? Or was it synchronicity? Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung invented the word "synchronicity." Here's how Wikipedia defines synchronicity: "the experience of two or more events that are apparently causally unrelated or unlikely to occur together by chance, yet are experienced as occurring together in a meaningful manner."

I told "Rand" about my resolution to forget him, going to a dating site, and clicking on the first picture I saw, only to confront a photo of him. This story freaked Rand out. He was sure it meant something. He pressed hard for us to meet in person.

Rand, of course, in his work as an atheist, "debunks" synchronicity.

He wasn't interested in debunking it when it occurred to him.


"Save Send Delete" tells the true story of my yearlong, emailed debate / love affair with a prominent atheist.

He knew how to prove synchronicity to be fallacious: Littlewood's Law of Miracles. So many things happen that it is inevitable that some of the things that happen will appear to be miraculous. Also, humans are pattern seekers. We insist on seeing meaning – pictures of bears and dippers – in random scattering of stars, for example.

Fair enough.

What Littlewood's Law of Miracles does not explain, though, are those moments when the mind is involved – in other words, when what I call "the little voice" – what you may call your inner voice, inner knowing, intuition or sixth sense – is involved. You might just bump into your long lost sweetheart at a party – and Littlewood's Law of Miracles might adequately account for that coincidence. It's just pure chance. But what if before you go to that party, your inner voice tells you that you must attend the party, that you will meet a significant person there?


Recently the public radio show "This American Life" broadcast an episode on coincidences entitled "No Coincidence, No Story." The show consists of one beyond-chance event after another.

A man asks a woman to send him a photo of herself. She sends him a photo of herself as a child. Without her realizing that this is the case, the man's grandmother is walking behind her in the photo. The woman is from Utah. The man is from Michigan. The grandmother lived in Florida. The photo was taken in Vancouver. What are the odds?

Many more stories on the "This American Life" website, here


  1. Danusha, when I first read Jung in the 1970s I was astounded by the concept of synchronicity. Sometimes this phenomenon is working, sometimes not. Maybe we are getting messages through Dark Matter and THAT's where the dang connection comes from. We bump up against it in our darkness shared by the rest of the world and we don't even know it. In fact, now that I think of it, the scientific existence of dark matter does explain synchronicity. At least for me. Christina Pacosz

  2. There ARE no coincidences. Great topic!