Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

Why? By recording your coincidence stories here, you can help him build a picture of what kinds of coincidences are out there and which ones seem to ‘get to’ us the most. Your coincidence stories can also help him explore the scientific explanations which may account for them – whether by doing the maths to calculate the chances of a coincidence, or speculating on the weird and wonderful workings of our brains.

Coincidences tend to be ‘surprising matches’ – sometimes they are lucky, sometimes unlucky, sometimes just mind-boggling. To help you recall the coincidences that have happened in your life, here’s a list of some common types of coincidence:

  • Surprising repetitions: for instance when you’ve had not contact with someone for ages, then find two connections to them very close together in time. Or when over several years multiple members of the same family are born with the same birthday. Or even a repetition of a really rare event – like winning the lottery twice, or your life being saved twice by the same person!
  • Simultaneous events: for example when two people phone each other at exactly the same time.
  • Parallel lives: such as when two people in a small group find they share a birthday or an unusual name, or when two people discover their lives match each other in bizarre details.
  • Uncanny patterns: imagine picking letters in Scrabble that spell your name.
  • Unlikely chains of events: perhaps you lost your false teeth overboard and found them inside a fish you caught twenty years later?

If anything coincidental has happened to you - anything that made you stop and say "well, what were the chances of that..?" - then please record your story in the form below! Please try to keep your story personal - about you or someone you know. The only thing we'd ask you to steer clear of are premonitions or déjà vu, purely because - whilst fascinating - they're quite common and also difficult to analyse.

You could also tell us about coincidences in the news, but please provide a link to a reliable source!

Title: two or three words that give a simple description of your story, eg ‘old friend’ or ‘birthday coincidence’
Coincidence: tell your coincidence story - and please include plenty of relevant detail (places, dates, numbers etc.) and include your first name if you want.
Email address (optional): please leave an email address, as then we can get in touch to find out more!

All of the information entered below except your email address will be published on this website when you press save

By ticking this box you agree that your email address can be forwarded to Wingspan Productions Ltd, who are making a BBC television programme about Chance and would like to feature Professor David Spiegelhalter's coincidence collection. In doing so you agree that the producers of the programme may contact you directly to ask you more about your story, though whether you decide to help them is entirely up to you. Your details will not be forwarded to any other party or used for marketing purposes.

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Finding our rejected car!

When we bought our new, car and it was delivered, we found that the factory had installed the wrong colour interior. We therefore rejected it and asked for the correct car. Around 6 months after getting the correct car we took a holiday to France, and, in a campsite in Brittany, we found that we were staying in the caravan opposite the caravan being stayed in by the family that had bought our rejected car! We found it amazing, the two cars are identical in every way except the colour of the interior.

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Russians Reunited

It was about 1990, the Cold War was winding down, and I was working at a research institute near the University of Oregon. A young woman from the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) State University won a research grant and came for a months-long visit to our institute. It was her first trip outside of Europe. Unfortunately, she struggled with English and quickly became homesick. One of my colleagues introduced us to each other because she correctly suspected that the two of us might become friends. We were about the same age, we both loved animals - and I had horses.

Predictive tea leaves

We were just discussing tea leaves and brewing up,in our FB gardening group and the wives tail of them being used to determine the future when Chris Tarrant asked the player on 'Who wants to be a millionaire' the question 'who took the kettle off when Polly put it on'. Worse still,that was the 3rd coincidence today of that type. The previous two being the diamonds coincidence and the other millionaire/property coincidence.

Diamonds are for coincidences

A friend posted an item on Facebook about how deBeers had made diamonds seem rare and desirable by suggesting their worth and subsequently selling them in rings. At that moment I happened to be watching a 'Take me out' repeat which had gone into the outcome of a couple who had selected on the show. The female participant suggested a description for her selected partner just as I was reading the FB posting : she said ' He is a diamond in the rough' !

Hire car coincidence

I hired a car in South Africa - it had the same registration number as my own car in the UK.

How to make a million

Having watched some atrocious ignorance on 'who wants to be a millionaire' I took to Facebook to remark that if this was the level of knowledge required,making a million should be a cinch. One of my friends who is an architect remarked that property in London could lead to making a mint. I happened to be watching 'beyond belief' as I replied that someone that morning had suggested ending up in a redesignated postcode could seriously affect property prices. Just as I wrote my reply, the 3rd segment of the tv programme came on which was about people moving to a new prope

Good Karma

When I was a child, probably around eight or nine, my school had a raffle of various toys and games that had been donated. The prizes were all in display in one of the classrooms and I was particularly taken with a Cluedo boardgame. It became the focus of my attention for a few days and ultimately, being eight or nine, it became the focus of my entire existence. I had to have it and was even prepared to try and steal it, if necessary. Or so I thought, as the opportunity presented itself the day before the raffle and I just couldn't bring myself to do something I knew was wrong.

Meeting a friend's girlfriend.

I was on my way from Cardiff to Leeds to visit a friend from Uni, when my train broke down a couple of stops from its destination. Taxis were provided for everyone to complete the journey and I was allocated one with a young woman I'd never met but who appeared familiar to me. As we chatted about our weekend plans it soon became apparent that she was my friend's girlfriend. She hadn't been on the train but was waiting for one to take her in to Leeds and had decided to join the queue for the taxis, rather than waiting for the next train.

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