We live in interesting times. I remarked the other day that this is Alex Jones’s world and we just live in it. One aspect that is interesting is that which was once dismissed as coincidence, such as Mrs. Clinton approving the sale of 20% of America’s uranium while her husband, the former President, was given over a half million dollars for a speech. To draw the connector of intentionality between the two actions (approval, payment) is to engage in conspiracy theory – not the more legal-sounding quid pro quo, but a fever dream in the mind of the insane. What drives the conspiracist is identifying clusters of coincidence, or synchronicity, and sorting out a cause for them. What are coincidence, conspiracy, and synchronicity?
Perhaps a trigger warning: this isn’t an exact science, and previous studies on these go from psychology to parapsychology, a field that includes Extra-sensory Perception, ghosts and remote readings. We’re not going to stare at goats today. With that, Psychology Today describes coincidence as an exercise in probability that gets people to pay attention.
One thing is certain about coincidence. The phenomenon fascinates believers and skeptics alike. It’s a porthole into one of the most interesting philosophical questions we can ask: Are the events of our lives ultimately objective or subjective? Is there a deeper order, an overarching purpose to the universe? Or are we the lucky accidents of evolution, living our precious but brief lives in a fundamentally random world that has only the meaning we choose to give it?
For those with a highly empirical bent, a coincidence is happenstance, a simultaneous collision of two events that has no special significance and obeys the laws of probability. “In reality, the most astonishingly incredible coincidence imaginable would be the complete absence of all coincidence,” says John Allen Paulos, professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia, and best-selling author of Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences. “Believing in the significance of oddities is self-aggrandizing,” he adds. “It says, ‘Look how important I am.’ People find it dispiriting to hear, ‘It just happened, and it doesn’t mean anything.'”
Synchronicity is related to coincidence in that there seems to be no discernable connection between coincidental events. There is no cause. We know this through the statement ‘correlation is not causation.’ We get synchronicity from Carl Jung, who provided a wealth of concepts for study.
Synchronicity (German: Synchronizität) is a concept, first introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung, which holds that events are “meaningful coincidences” if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related. During his career, Jung furnished several slightly different definitions of it. Jung variously defined synchronicity as an “acausal connecting (togetherness) principle,” “meaningful coincidence”, and “acausal parallelism.”
Jung’s work inspired Arthur Koestler, who in turn inspired Sting of The Police.
The Roots of Coincidence is a 1972 book by Arthur Koestler, an introduction to theories of parapsychology, including extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. Koestler postulates links between modern physics, their interaction with time and paranormal phenomena. It is influenced by Carl Jung’s concept of synchronicity and the seriality of Paul Kammerer.
The psychologist David Marks criticized the book for endorsing pseudoscience. Marks noted that Koestler uncritically accepted ESP experiments and ignored evidence that did not fit his hypothesis. Marks coined the term “Koestler’s Fallacy” as the assumption that odd matches of random events cannot arise by chance. Marks illustrates the fact that such odd matches do regularly occur with examples from his own experience.
Koestler’s Fallacy describes either angelic/demonic action or conspiracy theory. Our good friends at Merriam & Webster define this as “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.”
As we move through the news these days one wonders about coincidence and the rest of it. There are folks who even subscribe to the theory that there is no such thing as coincidence. See what I mean about this being Alex Jones’s world? Is that coincidence? Synchronicity? Conspiracy?
Aside from the news, why is all of this important?
We are eye witnesses to life in a country without a functioning Bill of Rights: the Accusation-Is-Proof-of-Guilt instead of Due Process, stacked courts and prosecutors behaving badly, nuns [still] on trial for not providing abortion drugs, and a homogeneity of political belief among the legions of nameless, faceless bureaucrats.
Is this state a coincidence? Synchronicity? Or Conspiracy?
For the Rats, welcome to Finals and Living Certified.