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At what point do coincidences stop being coincidences?

Sarpedon

Veteran Member
Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?
 

Politesse

Sapere aude
Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?

When you can demonstrate what the unseen link is, obviously.
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?

Well it's a process.

A coincidence is the inspiration to hypothesise that an unknown cause is in play.

A hypothesis is the inspiration to conduct rigorous analysis of events.

A rigorous analysis that doesn't cause the coincidence to disappear might confirm or refute your initial hypothesis; If it refutes the hypothesis, a new hypothesis should be formed.

If you can't (or won't) perform a rigorous analysis, then you abdicate your right to claim that the coincidence has any significance.

Of course, you can believe any crazy shit you like; But you shouldn't expect others to accept your crazy belief as fact (even provisionally) unless you can provide more evidence than mere informal coincidence.
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
At what point do coincidences stop being coincidences?

"The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."

View attachment 29546

Sure; But it would almost certainly take an infinite amount of time to locate any given large text within the infinite garbage thus produced.

And as we are incapable of experiencing such infinities, the whole theorem is a mere mathematical curiosity, useful only for illustrating the oddities that arise when you start considering infinities.
 

Treedbear

Veteran Member
An intersection of two lines on a plane is just a coincidence. An intersection of two lines in space is more than a coincidence. An intersection of any three or more lines is more than just a coincidence.
 

Bronzeage

Super Moderator
Staff member
Everything that happens, happens at a particular moment in time. Since there is only one moment in time, at a time, a lot of happenings have to share a moment.
 

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius

fromderinside

Mazzie Daius
Probability can be a harsh mistress. Something associated can be just coincidental.

You only said that because it's a full moon.

Well, I heard a newscaster on one of the local stations a while back explain that of course the moon affects us. It causes the tides, she said, and we're 98% water. You can't argue with logic like that.

Don't care to. The moon doesn't affect us, gravity causes tides.
 

Bobinius

New member
Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?

We always use the same method, the scientific one. I don't think there are any shortcuts or any valid non-scientific methods. So the accepted method is the scientific one. This doesn't imply a lab. In everyday life you just have to be systematic, note everything, see if it is more likely than chance. If it is not, it is called coincidence. By the way, everything you observe happening at the same time is co-incidence. What you want is causal correlation. There is no everyday, unbiased heuristic for that.
 
Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?

I don't think I can answer your question directly, but I do want to mention 4 related things.

1. Convention in statistics is that a p value of 5% or less is significant.

2. I will start with a concrete example of a problematic conclusion: Richard Hoagland has this idea that there is a structure on Mars that is a face. When I look at this question, I ask what are the odds that any series of contiguous natural structures on any planet or moon we've observed will form to look anthropomorphic under special computer enhancement? We only report out the things that seem abnormal, not all the normal observations over the broadest set of observations. So, is your mind asking the right question?

3. Can you make a significant correlation? Is it dependent upon your method so you could try slightly different methods and it still is a correlation? Is it dependent upon a single data point so that if you remove the data point, it's no longer a correlation?

4. I tend to accept things when there are multiple coincidences from different "dimensions" congregating on a conclusion. This is something I've used a lot in genealogy (and genetic genealogy).
 

steve_bank

Contributor
It seems a coincidence that you periodically see a dark SUV around with blacked out windows.

When men in black with dark sunglasses get out and drag you away it is no longer coincidence.
 

Jimmy Higgins

Contributor
Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?
As soon as one can accurately predict it.
 

Jimmy Higgins

Contributor
Probability can be a harsh mistress. Something associated can be just coincidental.

You only said that because it's a full moon.

Well, I heard a newscaster on one of the local stations a while back explain that of course the moon affects us. It causes the tides, she said, and we're 98% water. You can't argue with logic like that.
She is absolutely right, except that last 2% actually represents 85% of what controls us. So while the moon effects us because we are 98% water (despite the fact the moon is always running around the Earth, regardless of how much reflected light we see), it actually only counts for about 15% of our actions.
 

bilby

Fair dinkum thinkum
Well, I heard a newscaster on one of the local stations a while back explain that of course the moon affects us. It causes the tides, she said, and we're 98% water. You can't argue with logic like that.
She is absolutely right, except that last 2% actually represents 85% of what controls us. So while the moon effects us because we are 98% water (despite the fact the moon is always running around the Earth, regardless of how much reflected light we see), it actually only counts for about 15% of our actions.

More people are attacked by lions the night after the full moon than on any other day in the lunar month. This is a real and measurable effect; And it has a reasonable explanation. Can you guess why this should be the case?
 

Jimmy Higgins

Contributor
Well, I heard a newscaster on one of the local stations a while back explain that of course the moon affects us. It causes the tides, she said, and we're 98% water. You can't argue with logic like that.
She is absolutely right, except that last 2% actually represents 85% of what controls us. So while the moon effects us because we are 98% water (despite the fact the moon is always running around the Earth, regardless of how much reflected light we see), it actually only counts for about 15% of our actions.

More people are attacked by lions the night after the full moon than on any other day in the lunar month. This is a real and measurable effect; And it has a reasonable explanation. Can you guess why this should be the case?
Lions are 99% water and the last percent doesn't do anything. So lions are really nothing more than the Moon's bitches.
 

steve_bank

Contributor
More lions prefer Colgate toothpaste after a meal and Listerine for bad breath than other brands..

How do you explain that?

Correlation is not causation.

I had several relatives who were firefighters. One swaore that on events like a full moon things got worse, but statistics has never borne that out.

In pop culture the Bermuda Triangle is thought to have a high percentage of lost planes . That too is not brome out. Here in the PNW planes disappear without a trace. Sometimes wreckage is found decades later.

I did enough data analysis to know how easy it is to see patterns and connections where there is none.

As to lions, are more people about after a full moon? What are the data sources?

There is a business astrologer I heard on the radio who claims plant ray and astrological alignments correlate to stock markets and business. He actually has clients.
 
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Jarhyn

Contributor
They don't.

So, I'm really crazy. Or at least that's what I tell people. Maybe it's true. I am one to do strange rituals under the moon, and I am about 85% effective give or take on output. I call it a "causal adjacency". Something that is not causal, but may either have some impact through the human element of belief or through some other spookiness that will, by the wise, still be chalked up to placebo.

But even I can recognize that despite doing a ritual to get some lightning-struck copper and having a whopper of a storm you were unaware of being on the way taking down the ground cables on the pole behind your house, to be left in the alley by the maintenance crew, it's still a coincidence.
It's WILD coincidence, sure, but a coincidence nonetheless. It's a hell of a story though, and one I wouldn't have if I'd just bought some wire online.

The point at which it stops being coincidence is when it is repeatable. The thing about wild coincidences is that they happen all the time. They aren't repeatable but, there will always be another. It's almost like the wild coincidence is the depression in the road and the meaning and specialness is us, the puddle of water sitting in it. They will happen, but they will always be unique to us.

The real question is whether y'all allow a sense of wonder and magic when the wild coincidences that are bound to happen do? Do you sit out on the perch of your consciousness eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new and the strange so that it can be a part of your story?

That's one of the things that is "magic": making coincidence useful and fun.
 

ideologyhunter

Veteran Member
At what point do coincidences stop being coincidences?
Depends on whether you're a materialist -- in which case, you seek and observe to find a cause or an ascription of randomness -- or a theist -- and then it may not take much to see the intervention of a deity.
If those monkeys on the keyboard kept at it until carpal tunnel took over, I still imagine you'd never get all 3093 lines of Romeo and Juliet. Just imagine some crazed monkey getting all the way to 3092 and then:
'For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Coffee Cup.'
By the way, how long are these monkeys supposed to live, and has anyone considered their attention spans?

The most profound dissection of coincidence may be in Season 2 of Seinfeld, when Elaine has her elevator scene with madwoman Rava.
Rava: Yes, that's all: a coincidence.
Elaine: A big coincidence.
Rava: Not a 'big' coincidence. A coincidence.
Elaine: No. That's a big coincidence.
Rava: That's what a coincidence is. There are no 'small' coincidences and 'big' coincidences!
Elaine: No, there are degrees of coincidences.
Rava: No. There are only coincidences. Ask anybody.
 

excreationist

Married mouth-breather
What if it isn't coincidence but the intelligence behind it was making it seem like it was a coincidence?

In the WW2 movie "The Imitation Game", they could crack the Nazi encoded messages but they didn't want the Nazis to suspect that they had so they used statistical analysis....

https://www.scriptslug.com/assets/scripts/the-imitation-game-2014.pdf
ALAN TURING
While we develop a system for
determining how much intelligence
to act on. Which attacks to stop,
which to let through. Statistical
analysis. The minimum number of
actions it’ll take to win the war,
but the maximum number we’re able
to take before the Germans get
suspicious.

STEWART MENZIES
You’re going to trust this all to
statistics? To maths?

ALAN TURING
Correct.

JOAN CLARKE
And then MI-6 can come up with the
lies we’ll tell everyone else.

ALAN TURING
We’ll require a believable
alternate source for each piece of
information we use.

JOAN CLARKE
A false story that exlains how we
got that information, that has
nothing to do with Enigma. And then
you’ll need to leak those stories
to the Germans.

ALAN TURING
And the rest of our military.

..........

IN HUT 8: Peter and Hugh each decrypt a message, placing TWO
BLUE PINS on the board, and then one RED. They look to Alan:
Two British ships, and they can only save one of them.

Alan runs a statistical analysis of their options. We see KEY
WORDS: “LIKELIHOOD OF DETECTION,” “CASUALTIES,” “MATERIAL
LOSSES” interspersed with mathematical equations. Alan places
his results into a GREEN FOLDER.

When this is applied to prayer answering maybe some are deliberately answered but because of statistics some others can't be answered.

From Futurama:
GOD
Bender, being God isn't easy, if you
do too much, people get dependent. And
if you do nothing, they lose hope. You
have to use a light touch, like a safecracker
or a pickpocket.

BENDER
Or a guy who burns down the bar for
the insurance money.

GOD
Yes, if you make it look like an electrical
thing. When you do things right, people
won't be sure you've done anything at
all.

So the Imitation Game has a lot of relevance to my view of possible "coincidences".
 

skepticalbip

Contributor
Well, I heard a newscaster on one of the local stations a while back explain that of course the moon affects us. It causes the tides, she said, and we're 98% water. You can't argue with logic like that.
She is absolutely right, except that last 2% actually represents 85% of what controls us. So while the moon effects us because we are 98% water (despite the fact the moon is always running around the Earth, regardless of how much reflected light we see), it actually only counts for about 15% of our actions.

More people are attacked by lions the night after the full moon than on any other day in the lunar month. This is a real and measurable effect; And it has a reasonable explanation. Can you guess why this should be the case?
Lions can't hunt during the full moon because they are hiding from the weirwolves. So by the night after the full moon they haven't eaten for quite a while and will attack anything eatable.
 

steve_bank

Contributor
When I logged on I was thinking htere might be a new post on this tread, and there was.

Spooky, a coincidence or am I psychic or something. Anybody want their palm read?
 

Bronzeage

Super Moderator
Staff member
Probability can be a harsh mistress. Something associated can be just coincidental.

You only said that because it's a full moon.

Well, I heard a newscaster on one of the local stations a while back explain that of course the moon affects us. It causes the tides, she said, and we're 98% water. You can't argue with logic like that.
The problem is not with the proposition that the Moon's gravity affects the human body. The problem is finding a control group farther away from the moon.
 

Jarhyn

Contributor
Probability can be a harsh mistress. Something associated can be just coincidental.

You only said that because it's a full moon.

Well, I heard a newscaster on one of the local stations a while back explain that of course the moon affects us. It causes the tides, she said, and we're 98% water. You can't argue with logic like that.
The problem is not with the proposition that the Moon's gravity affects the human body. The problem is finding a control group farther away from the moon.
I mean, maybe they should take that newscaster for a control. She seems to be living on the moon.

Why go further when you can go closer!
 

steve_bank

Contributor
Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?
The surest way is to flip a coin.
 
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