Coincidence Bias

#1
How do we know if something is a random coincidence or a meaningful synchronicity? There is really no scientific way to tell the difference. Sure, we can attempt to calculate the odds in attempt to discern between the two, but unless the phenomenon is repeatable and testable, there's no way to examine it with science leaving it up to the individual to assign meaning to the coincidence or synchronicity based on a WAG (wild ass guess) of the probability and the individual's own Confirmation Bias or Coincidence Bias. The justification for Coincidence Bias is that with a staggering amount of improbable possibilities it is highly probable that something improbable will happen in an apparently meaningful way.

I'm creating the new term (at least I think it is new) "Coincidence Bias" because I think it is a real bias that hasn't been identified. In the pervasive modern rationalistic materialist paradigm, it is assumed that the events of the universe are either causal or random so that when a seemingly meaningful coincidence occurs that has no apparent cause, there is a bias to assume it is completely random and meaningless. The converse of Coincidence Bias is Confirmation Bias in which we assign post-hoc meaning or justification to a random or non-causal event. Confirmation Bias is a bit more natural to us with our origins and pattern recognizing brains, so in scientism it is relegated to the same dustbin inhabited by old wives' tales and religions.

So now back to the original question: how do we know if an event is a synchronicity or a random coincidence? As I said above, there's no scientific method for this. We can only WAG it and choose for ourselves whether to apply confirmation bias or coincidence bias.

If we give up the rationalistic materialistic notion that the universe is fundamentally meaningless, and instead adopt the notion that the universe is fundamentally an interesting story developed for the sake of experiencing interestingness, then it becomes apparent that coincidence bias is a real bias.

Anyone who enjoys the dramatic arts through literature or movies or plays knows to watch for foreshadowing in the early events of a story. Nothing in a story is a coincidence although it must be made to appear as such. The creative arranging of details and the playing with symbols in a narrative often adds a tremendous level of interest. We would think someone foolish to assume all coincidences in a novel are truly coincidences.

So if we are living in a story, then we can be free to indulge in the belief in synchronicity and those who refuse to do so engage in coincidence bias and do not see reality accurately just like the poor literary critic who misses all the symbolic meaning and all the foreshadowing in a novel. Now a word of caution: adopting this mindset too strongly could lead some people to become delusional or paranoid. As with all things... balance is key. No story makes sense without a balance of randomness to create meaning by way of contrast.

So what do you think? Is Coincidence Bias a real bias? What else happens when we get rid of the lens of meaninglessness and instead view the universe through the lens of dramatic interestingness? Can you see the ways the universe and human history and life are all constructed to be an interesting story?
 
#2
I would say that when these coincidences happen 3-4 times within a small timeframe (say six months) under ridiculous circumstances (all unplanned) and involve the same person the odds become impressively minuscule.

I had such a thing happen to me with a woman and then again on a significant date seven years later (with the same girl). I usually disregard "one-off" coincidences, but began believing in synchronicity after being shocked out of my mind during that particular timeframe.
 
#3
I once watched a clip with a man say that out of the visual experiences we have, only about 20% have gone through the optic nerve to the brain, the 80% remaining is rather the brain filling in the gaps. (The man was teaching remote viewing and said this as a matter of fact, and I really haven't verified these figures in any way...)
I knew from before that the standard view is that the brain first filters out most of the stimuli we encounter and that there then is this process of fitting together the stimuli that have passed through our filters. However, that we have to add so extremely much to the picture to make it coherent seemed mind boggling to me.
Even if these numbers are not totally correct, I think the process of filtering out and then filling the gaps points to interesting possibilities:

1. What if it's possible to influence this filtering/refilling process. To let through more of the stimuli (change the 20/80 ratio)? (For example by being more open minded - not filtering out stimuli on the bases that it doesn't fit my world view.) Or not refilling the gaps only in ways that are consistent with what I think is possible?
Would this lead to a less consistent experience? Less meaningful (from my subjective perspective)? Or just different? Or maybe one would experience more synchronicity and/or weird phenomena from a more open minded stance?

2. Might it be possible in the future to conduct experiments to see in our nervous system/brains which experiences are based more directly on stimuli (and thus less the result of our own search for meaning)?

(I hope I'm not getting away to much from the topic.)
 
#4
It's as if synchronicity, along with the mind's effects on RNGs, might actually be influencing, or better still, might actually BE, the underlying "orderedness" of reality itself. When a direct, individual influence is not being willed, the system decays back to a "basket case" which is the mass jostling of all micro-wills everywhere in the world, and which resembles the (probably artificial) ideal of "pure randomness."
 
#5
It's as if synchronicity, along with the mind's effects on RNGs, might actually be influencing, or better still, might actually BE, the underlying "orderedness" of reality itself. When a direct, individual influence is not being willed, the system decays back to a "basket case" which is the mass jostling of all micro-wills everywhere in the world, and which resembles the (probably artificial) ideal of "pure randomness."
I'm curious what would constitute "being willed"... The very first synchronicity in the chain that I mentioned occurred in a place where this girl and I had dinner once (we had some history, but I had not seen her in a while) at the exact same moment when I was joking about her to a different person (not in a good way, I indirectly implied that she may have been crazy). I don't think that my joking about her "willed" this person back into my life, but am open to the possibility that the subsequent events may have been influenced in some way by the initial experience.
 
Last edited:
#6
So, a few years ago I dreamed of a specific plant, known in Europe as Coltsfoot.
In the dream, I was given its name and a visual of the flower on the plant.

Ten days later I came down with my first ever case of bronchitis.

Coltsfoot, although slightly toxic to the liver in high doses, is specific in the treatment of bronchitis.

Now, is it possible that my body informed my mind, subconsciously, that I was about to develop bronchitis? For I was showing no symptoms at the time.

Does the bronchial virus even lurk in the body for 10 days? Despite having had a microbiologist father, I do not know.

Or is it possible to look at it another way - that through the basic networking of all life, this human unit was connected to a plant unit more strongly than usual, perhaps triggered by a future event?

I actually don't know, but I have found more meaning and a greater sense of liberation in adopting the second paradigm, and I now call the Cotlsfoot my first plant shamanic teacher.
 
#7
It's as if synchronicity, along with the mind's effects on RNGs, might actually be influencing, or better still, might actually BE, the underlying "orderedness" of reality itself. When a direct, individual influence is not being willed, the system decays back to a "basket case" which is the mass jostling of all micro-wills everywhere in the world, and which resembles the (probably artificial) ideal of "pure randomness."
Hi, I am new. My own interests are primarily focused on "synchronicity." I have studied the phenomena as best as one can while playing many rolls such as a participant, an observer, and an observer of the participant/observer (the scientist).

I found this comment from back in 2013 to be one of the most astute observations/speculations I have ever come upon and just wanted to highlight this comment and thank the poster, Kai.

Ohhh and I should have mentioned the OP - outstanding.

I know these are simply comments for now but I will soon be posting my documentations regarding first hand experiences with the phenomena.
 
Last edited:
Top