Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

Meeting someone that lived in my bedroom

I grew up on a farm near Hawley MN. Moved to Seattle. My girlfriend invited me to Christmas dinner at her family's home. I sat at the dining room table with her family, including an aunt by marriage. Aunt: "Where are you from?" Me: "Northern Minnesota." Aunt: "Me, too. What town?" Me: "Near Fargo Moorhead." Aunt: "Me, too. What town? Me: "Hawley, my family bought the old Luthi farm." Aunt: "I'm Pat Luthi, what bedroom was yours?" Me? "The northwest bedroom." Aunt: "That was my bedroom."


This isn't my coincidence, but I witnessed it. I've changed the names, including that of the famous actor in the story. We had a party. Two guests were Adriana and Ruthie. Adriana is my wife's friend and Ruthie is a former high-school classmate of mine.

A story about Sam Leve

Sam Leve was a well known stage designer in New York in the 1930s and ‘40s. He was one of my father’s two best friends from childhood. He is now deceased, unfortunately, and I'm leaving his real name in the story in order to honor him. One day, in the 1980s, He told me this story. During the second world war, Sam approached the International Rescue Committee and asked if there was anything he could do to help. The Committee was formed to smuggle Jews out of Nazi-occupied Europe, and today is one of the best known organizations dedicated to helping refugees everywhere.

A malfunctioning auto saved my career from disaster

April, 1978. I was still in graduate school. I had promised the company I had accepted a job with that I would start work on this date. There was only one problem. My doctoral dissertation (in chemistry) was incomplete. I thought, "Oh, well, I'll finish it in the evenings after I start my new job", but secretly I feared that I never would.

A Bluegrass Connection

I love Bluegrass and early country music and am something of an aficionado. I attended the first few multi-day Bluegrass festivals, centered around the career of Bluegrass founder Bill Monroe, in Fincastle, VA in 1965 and '66. A few years later, as an undergraduate, my room-mate and I attended Bill Monroe's "Brown Country Jamboree", in Bean Blossom, IN, one week-end. A surprising thing happened at Bean Blossom. We arrived in the middle of torrential downpour.

Found the pilot

In 1971 I was a Dallas policeman working the evening shift (3:00pm - 11:00pm) in early summer. Near the end of the shift a call came out at Redbird Airport regarding a young boy who was beheaded while riding his mini-bike down the runway. The runway was dark and he was struck by one of the propellers of a twin engine plane that was landing. After the the shift ended I learned the details of the accident from the officers that answered the call. In 1986 I boarded a Southwest Airlines flight from Dallas to San Antonio at Love Field. The plane was packed but I found a seat.

"Could that possibly be true?"

One night my then-wife told me a story about a spiritual experience she once had. It was a strange and vivid story that involved her (and the people with her) feeling that she was emitting or transferring what could be called a "divine energy." She left the room, and I puzzled over it. I was sure she was telling the truth about what it felt like to her, but she made no claims about whether it was "real" or not. But I wondered: could that possibly be true? As I pondered this, I was setting the clock radio alarm.

Lost ring

Several years ago I was creating a new native plant garden with my significant other.The new garden was lawn before I scalped it and started putting in native plants. I was digging the holes for the plants and my SO was planting them. She got to one hole and reached in and pulled out her deceased husband's wedding band that he had lost several years before his death. When he lost it, they searched for days. I had dug a small 6 inch hole exactly where it was, out of an area of 150 sq ft.<br />


My family was checking in at a Hilton in St. Louis in 2001/2002 there was a long line. I went to the ATM & put in my pin combined with my student ID # (8 digits total) just to waste time. Much to my surprise, people's account information came up.

Two near-disasters

I spent a weekend on retreat in a small cabin with no phone, computer, or other communication. I went for a walk in the afternoon. A big storm came up, the sky turned green, I heard a sound like a runaway train, and thinking it might be a tornado, I ran back toward the cabin. As I was crossing a road, a very large tree fell. The trunk hitting the ground ten feet from me made the ground shake; a nearby truck was speared by a branch; but I was not hurt.