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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No Chance its only chance #2

Law and Order One evening a few years ago, I went to bed with a book to read during commercials. The book had been in a box of books in my garage but I’d not read it. I noticed it one day and took it into the house, intending to read it. That evening I decided to read it. The book was so interesting I didn’t give much attention to the television show when it ended, then a different show began. It was a show I never watch, the Law and Order series; as a rule I change the station.

Professor of Chance

Place- Manipal, India<br /> Date-15 Sep, 2014<br /> Name-Shabbeer<br /> Event- I study Msc. (biostatistics) and had recently borrowed a book from library - Bayesian Adaptive Methods for Clinical Trials by Scott Berry et al. While making a list of important papers and books to refer i found couple of papers and book by Prof. David Spiegelhalter. So, i downloaded and started reading them in evening over a cup of nice South Indian coffee. Then my friend pings me in skype and posts a link of an interesting video of a documentary on probability produced by BBC.

Chance meeting

My partner and I were walking around Chirk Castle the other week for the first time, when some old friends we knew from University (about 3 years ago in Yorkshire) bumped into us. Strange that we both decided to go there on the same day. My parents have also bumped into friends in other parts of the world whilst on holiday after not seeing them for years.

Birthdays in my family

My family has two odd coincidences with dates. First: Mine, my older sister's and my parents birthdays are 22nd, 23rd, 24th and 25th various months. My younger sister breaks this one by being born on the 7th. Interesting but not that amazing. Secondly, my and my sisters share birthdays with three of my mother's siblings (plus I also share with a cousin on my father's side). Also, my parents and an aunt and uncle unintentionally share a wedding anniversary. My parents' wedding should have been the week before, but was delayed by a civil servant strike.

Old friend

I met a guy in Vang Vieng (Laos) when I was travelling around the country. I am from Brazil and he is from Berrigan, Australia. On my last night there we went out for some drinks and we never spoke again after that day. Many months later I happened to be driving through a small town in Australia called Bermagui (population of 1500) and decided to stop there to buy something to eat at a supermarket. Just before entering the supermarket I noticed this man staring at me by the main door, and when I got closer I could recognize him!

small world

I grew up in a small town of about 20k people. 10 years later I met a man on a squatted farm in the countryside 30 Km outside of Barcelona. He was from a small village in Belgium, and living in Barcelona, but visiting this farm to learn to brew beer. I was visiting this farm as I traveled by, and only there for one day. After talking throughout the day, I told him the town I came from, and it turns out that he did an exchange student program and the same highschool I was attending, at the same time. We were different years and did not know eachother, but shared several mutual friends.

same day suicide

I have 2 sons each married to girls who have older half brothers. They all lived in different parts of the country. One day my eldest son phoned to tell me his wife's brother had been found dead in his car in his garage having died from the exhaust fumes. An hour later my youngest son phoned to tell me his wife's brother had hanged himself - all on the same day.

Looking for a book at Half Price books

It was Freud's Contribution to Psychiatry by A. A. Brill; I'd loaned my copy to a family member, who wanted to keep it. The clerk did searches in several categories without success. disappointed, I picked up my purse which I'd set on a pile of books in front of the computer. The Basic Writings of Sigmund Freud, translated by A. A. Brill was right where I'd put my purse. Not exactly the book I was looking for but I bought it and read it. That was a lucky incident.

Not a chance its only chance.

A 9 years old girl in 1941 has written each of the times tables up to 10 on her Golden Rod tablet. She did that because she has to memorize them. Her dad, (with the best of intentions) insists she has to recite the multiplication tables through 10 before she can eat dinner. Its been a long trek and she hasn't succeeded yet. Each night her sisters and brother giggle while she haltingly begins; 1 x 1 = 1; 1 x 2 = 2; etc., attempting to get through to 10 x 10 = 100. Her dinner is delayed every evening.

birthdate dd mn cc yy converts base 27 my rsrch Archim A=PI .Xsq.

Archimedes BC proposition 41~43 sphere cylinder show Area of Compass circle on sphere. A=PI Xsq. I look my birthdate 23031948. my habit ADZ = 1,4,26. base 27. I do article cover NZ new Zealand mathematics magaz method of Eudoxus. formula. A=PI ) CXC. my birthday and formula really match. then I discover car number license plate and my birthdate at friends house. PIU CAI. expiry 23032014. photo facebook.com/mcdonewt

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