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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RIPD

I was watching Kevin Bacon and Ryan Reynolds in 'RIPD' when I became aware of the annoying buzz of a housefly. As the two cops prepared for a drug bust showdown,the fly decided the TV was the most interesting place to be,and began traversing the screen, just as our heroes pronounced themselves before entering the hoods hideout. 'SWAT!!!!' The fly exited stage left!

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London bus 1942

My parents were refugees from Prague. They were about to become homeless in Kent. My mother on a bus in London found herself next to an old school friend from Prague who was about to leave for USA. Her friend was looking for a tenant for their house in London.

Unlikely meeting

In the summer holidays after my first year at University, I undertook an epic trip across S America overland. At one point I was in the vast Pantanal wetlands, and had just arrived at a hammock camp made for backpackers in a fairly remote part of it. As I put my rucksack in a hammock, I heard someone say my name, looked up, and found the student who had been on the lab bench opposite me for all our laboratory practicals for the year was in the hammock hanging next to it.

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H Pridgeon

One day I was in the kitchen with my son and the kettle began to boil. I asked my son if he had put the kettle on and he said no. I said you must have because it wasn't me. He said it was you mum, stop messing with me. It was around the time of the anniversary of my sisters death and I had been thinking about her a lot. A few days later my son & I were in the kitchen again and the kettle began to boil. This time neither of us were near it and we both looked at each other. I said there you go... it's done it again!

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Meeting David Spiegelhalter

At lunch with two colleagues, we were talking about the need to communicate statistics clearly to the general public, and of the good work that David Spiegelhalter has done on this. My younger colleague was getting quite excited and, even as we left the restaurant, kept singing the praises of the great man. About half way to our being back in the office, who did we chance upon? David Spiegelhalter of course. (Spoiling the magic: DS was in a meeting at the RSS, which is around the corner from us, so this was not quite an unexpected meeting place.

The early bird gets voting

I went to vote in California's primary on Tuesday at my local precinct. There are about 1500 people registered to vote in each precinct. There were 2 precincts in the room where I voted. The polls were open from 7 am to 8 pm. I arrived around 7:15. Shortly after I arrived, 2 other women arrived. All three of us were voting in the same precinct and all had the first name of Robin (and all spelled "robin" the same way (not robyn or robbin)!! What is the probability that this could happen? (I do not know if we all voted the same way.)

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