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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Died on same date

My mother Lillian died on January 6,2002 around 4:00 pm This year her brother Michael and my fathers brother Roy both died January 6, 2019. One at 2:30 am the other at 4:00 pm.

Strange coincidence in Lab

I cannot remimber the date , but it was in 2016 , while I was working in Laboratory in Riyadh , as a unit assistant . I receive a lab request with a patient name Saleha Suliman Alessi , and immediately at the same time , another patient with exactly the same name , came with her request !!! I wounder how such uncommon name came at the same time with different MR numbers came together . I asked them : do you know each other , they replayd NO .

Sons Meeting

I’m a designer. I was sitting with a couple designing their kitchen. Had two meetings over two weeks to finalise things. Towards the end of our final meeting I asked if they had children that lived nearby, & we discovered our sons had been in jazz band together in high school in New Jersey. Then we found out they both live in the same area in Boston. We said we would text our sons that night to see if they remembered each other.

Sons Meeting

I’m a designer. I was sitting with a couple designing their kitchen. Had two meetings over two weeks to finalise things. Towards the end of our final meeting I asked if they had children that lived nearby, & we discovered our sons had been in jazz band together in high school in New Jersey. Then we found out they both live in the same area in Boston. We said we would text our sons that night to see if they remembered each other.

Professor

My mind must work in a strange way. One Saturday morning I was thinking that because Gautama Buddha developed a philosophy that was truly revolutionary he was probably much smarter than Jesus. Even today, Buddha's empiricism and scepticism seem very modern. An hour or so after thinking this I entered my local post office and picked up a book of lists, and the compiler obviously had the same idea that I had just had because Buddha's IQ was listed as about 160 (from memory) but Jesus' was about 130.

Professor

I was travelling on a 747 between Sydney, Australia, and London when a noticed a family sitting a few seats away from me, who had got on the plane at Sydney. On arrival in London, I caught a tube to St Pancras station and then a train to Nottingham. I eventually arrived at my friend's house in Beeston. He told me that his next door neighbour had that day returned from Australia. Lo and behold! It was the person who had been on the same plane as me. The chances of this happening are very small indeed.

Professor

There are two aspects of this coincidence. Firstly, from my point of view I was behaving completely out of character, and secondly the actual coincidence is fairly unlikely. However, the chance of both situations arising is unusual. One morning, probably well before Justin Timberlake was born, I was obsessed by the name 'Timberlake' that would not stop going through my mind. At one stage I was climbing a flight of stairs and I stopped and told myself to get the name out of my head.

The Butterfly and the Diving Bell

I'm at the doc, waiting. Nurse comes in to do vitals, sees my Kindle, asks what I'm reading. Then while she does vitals, tells me at length about book she just read, "The Butterfly and the Diving Bell", which I'd never heard of. Two hours later at home, reading a different book, a character describes a book that sounds just like "Butterfly", and then names it.

Mrs

Sharing a Cabin. On Monday 10th June 2017 I sailed from Aberdeen to Lerwick and had booked a shared female cabin. My cabin mate was a Shetland resident returning to the islands after 6 weeks away sailing on the west coast of Scotland. On Monday 11th June 2018 I made the same journey and found myself sharing with the same woman, this time she was returning to Shetland from a weekend in Edinburgh. We had not been in contact in the intervening year.

Mrs

Living next door. On 23rd June 2018 I was waiting for a ferry from the Shetland Mainland to Yell. Got into conversation with a Yell resident. In time she asked me where I was from and then informed me her daughter's partner had just got a job in that town. Six months later her daughter and partner purchased the house next door to me: there had been no contact between the woman on Yell and me since that conversation in June, and her daughter and partner did not know I was their next door neighbour until the day they moved in.

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