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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Donnie Darko

I have trouble getting up in the morning, standard for most people. I can set multiple alarms on my iPhone and none of them will even stir my sleep. I became frustrated that I couldn't find something to wake me, I tried several things around the house that I could set an alarm to wake me. Eventually I came to an old Quarts clock that has sat on a mantle piece for as long as I can remember. It also hasn't worked for all that time, but that wasn't due to the actual clock, but because of a missing back panel that held a single AAA battery into place.

old friend

The other day I was having a conversation with my brother about a family friend. Not knowing a lot about this person's past (this person is very private) I started looking up this person via Google. I came across someone with the exact same name and looked identical to the person I was looking up. The person I found was well lets just say not someone you would want anyone to know you are associated with.

answered before I rang

This is partly a response to "Who phone who?" My name is Peter. The (true) story about the "chance discovery of parallel family" is mine. That struck me as interesting because you can prove the whole thing and loosely calculate the probabilities. As a family we have experienced lots of odd coincidences, mainly unlikely meetings.

Who phone who?

I picked up my phone to call my daughter and heard someone on the line, I said Hello. Is that you mum? the voice replied. Some how we'd both picked up our phones at the same time but neither of us had time to dial each others phone numbers. How can this possibly happen?

chance discovery of parallel family

My daughter at university asked me (October 2014) to check some details about the post-graduate course she is on. A related Google search took me straight to a student society relating uniquely to that course, and I noticed that a member of the student committee (ie someone else currently on the course) had the same surname, which is not common. I looked up her details using free online birth-marriage-death indexes and found that she was born in the same medium-sized town as my daughter, some 100 miles away from the university.

Other halves

my sister got married to a guy with 1 brother. I at the time was dating a guy I later married who also has 1 brother. Both my sister's husband and mine's father and brother have the same names.

Lotto Numbers

In 1996 my husband and I chose six Lotto Numbers 13 15 20 26 27 28 13 my daughters age 15 my sons age 20 my daughters birthday 26 my husbands birthday 27 my birthday 28 my sons birthday Since then we have had two more sons, a granddaughter and a grandson all born on 'Lotto Number' dates! 28 son 13 son 20 granddaughter & grandson None of them anywhere near their due dates either! Varying from six weeks early to two weeks late!

The postcard

In 1976 while working in Pakistan, I met a girl called Gilly S. who was the daughter of a collegue of mine. Two years later, after I had I left Pakistan and the Company, while visiting a friend in Italy, I saw that he was using as a bookmark a postcard addressed to the same girl. He had never been near Pakistan; had no idea who the girl was; or how the postcard had ended up in his book.

Shark Attack

No - this is not one of those 'saved at sea from a shark' I survived stories.

Serendipitous Synchronicity

One day I had gotten a strong inclination to look up the word Serendipity in a dictionary to see if it might have something to do with 333, as I had been seeing those numbers surface around me. Sure enough, it did in this particular dictionary. Afterwards, I go to step outside and the next thing I notice was a van drive by with a business name along the side which was also~Serendipity!Later on that day I just so happen to notice that my friend whom I was staying with also had a bible called a serendipity bible. Which I had never heard of either!