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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Brave Trials Kurse und - Tipps

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An expressive drawing

An expressive drawing I often make drawings. The other day I showed one of them to a jovial, friendly elderly lady. It is said to be "very expressive" and depicts a thin, bald, rigorous, bitter (?) man with a judgemental look. While she was watching and commenting it carefully (especially on the scrutinizing, judgemental expression of his face ) blood started flowing from her nose. "Does this often happen ?" - I asked. "Practically speaking, never. " - she replied.

link between unrelated "narratives"; a stranger no stranger.

I am the proprietor of Independent Bookshop, Scarthin Books, in Cromford, Derbyshire. From the shop counter one can clearly see the front door, but a part of the shop straight ahead is obscured by bookshelves. Some years ago, a mature lady unknown to me entered and began speaking in baby talk to a toddler hidden behind the shelves. I decided to make a joke out of the apparent absence of any other recipient of her bay talk and said to her "Ahhh, no-one's spoken to me like that in 40 years".

Same password

I logged into my computer one morning and was surprised to discover a completely different desktop. On investigation I found that I was not logged in as myself, but as one of my colleagues, so it was his desktop I was seeing. How could that happen? He'd used my computer the night before, and when I logged in I just typed my password without looking at the user name it was offering me. And I got in because we both had the same password (for no reason of any connection between us). So when he arrived at work I was able to surprise him with "I know your password".

Gas station encounter

This coincidence needs a bit of back story to understand the impact I felt from it. I headed out relatively late one evening to go to the grocery store. The drive to the store from my house basically involves driving south down one road - it's very simple and straightforward, and takes at most 5 minutes (when there's traffic). When I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed that the car was very low on gas. Because my wife was going to take our kids out somewhere the following day, I stopped at a gas station that's not too far from the house to fill up the tank.

Mrs M. W.

our first grandson was born on my 41st birthday July 1997 our forth grandson was born on our 41st wedding anniversary Aug 2015

Finding a t-shirt (yours) in a faraway land

I heard this coincidence story third-hand, from a professor teaching an undergraduate-level conservation course. She was lecturing about Tambopata, Peru, and went on a tangent about a former student who had been studying (or perhaps doing fieldwork) there. The student was at a market that sold used clothing, and while sifting through the piles of clothes, happened to find a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of his youth sports team with his name and number on the back.

A tale of two Elliots

A few years ago, I was dating someone named Elliot Hughes. We had been together for about two years, and I was planning to move to another state to live with him after a four-month internship (for which I had to live on-site). The internship was in an isolated area, with only a few other people my age living there, and I kept to myself throughout the first three months. Eventually, with just a few weeks left in my internship, a young man struck up a conversation with me. He said his name was Tote. Another week passed, and he invited me and another young woman to play board games.

Getting a funny feeling that someone we hardly knew a decade ago had died

In 1994 my husband was thumped by a man in London: the man had road rage, he had gone completely berserk after a minor car accident involving my husband. We had not known or heard of this man before the incident, he was a complete stranger. We later found out his name from the police who investigated the incident. The man was in his 20s, very young.