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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Luck of the Coin Toss?

True story. When I was a little kid, I thought when you tossed a coin, it would come up whatever side was facing up, when you tossed it. So if you held it head-side-up, it would end up heads when you tossed it. Get it? Anyways, I firmly believed this. And for a while, I had no reason to doubt it either. But that is not the weird thing. The weird thing, is that it really came up the side I was holding in my hand. REPEATEDLY. It literally happened every time I tossed it that way. People still don't believe me when I tell this story.

book and reality

I was reading Coelhos "Veronika decides to die", it talks about a girl who tries to kill herself with an overdose of pills, she takes them and then she wakes up in an hospital thinking something like "Oh, I'm not dead, and now?". I work in an hospital and a few day after I read that book we had a patient that tried to kill herself with pills, it was the first time I had a patient who tried suicide.

Programme of interest

As my wife and I never watched the TV series "Person of Interest" when it started and didn’t watch any later episodes because they wouldn’t make sense, we bought the first three series on DVD and have been watching those. We are still only partway through series two. I realised that this situation might never end and eventually we would have to buy more series on DVD as I hadn’t kept track of which episodes were currently showing on TV.

Given $15,000

In November 1995 I was looking at my financials for the month and realised that I needed $15,000 to balance the books that month. I wondered to myself “how am I going to find that ?”10 minutes later I received a call from a Dutch partner who was booked to speak in Beijing the following week but could not attend. He was calling to ask me to go in his place, and he indicated that the fee would be $15,000. I needed $15,000 and within 10 minutes it appeared.

Meeting John Denver

I had attended a workshop where John Denver’s songs helped clarify my decision to marry. On Friday I actively thought about how he could contact John Denver to say thank you but dismissed it as a crazy idea. I was surprised to find on opening the next day’s newspaper that John Denver would be in Singapore the following week. I shared the story with my friend Carol who called who her friend Shirley who worked at the hotel where John Denver would be staying. Shirley called me asked me to send a fax for her to pass to John Denver.

Check Amount

I went out at lunch time one day to get a hair cut. The name of the salon was 18/8 Salon. After my haircut, I walked over to the grocery store and picked up a few items for lunch. Fruit, a drink, snack, and a few items from the salad bar (which is priced by weight). My bill upon check-out was $18.08.

Identity theft scare

Some years ago I registered the domain name for my website honeypi.org.uk. I checked on the Internet for existing associations between the words "honey" and "Pi" but found very few. One prominent one was the song "Pi" sung by Kate Bush on the CD "A sea of honey" in her album "Aerial". Being mathematically minded I bought the album and enjoyed that song. A few years later I discovered that someone else had registered the domain name honeypi.co.uk, very similar to my own. I looked up the owner of the domain and found my own name there!

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!

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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