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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Groundhog shack

Last night I was trying to recall the name of the rodent that had featured in the golfing film starring Bill Murray. This had been precipitated by my other moving like the rodent did when dancing to the Kenny Loggin's opening theme. Not being able to recall the film's name I had to Google to find 'Caddyshack' and determine that the rodent was in fact a Gopher. Just as I found this out,Jeremy Paxman in University Challenge asked a question on tv about a weatherman called Phil doomed to repeat the same day over and over. This of course was 'Groundhog Day' starri

I'm destined to be a Disney villain

My first name is Ursula (which is not a fun time when you were born post-Little Mermaid). I have met two other Ursulas in my life. One of them was driving the boat for a Little Mermaid ride at DisneyLand; she gave me her pin with our name on it. The other Ursula I met was while I was swimming in the ocean, snorkling over a reef. Both very obviously connect to the movie. It's like the only place I can meet Ursulas. I also have a friend named Ariel, who has lovely red hair.


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Random Rugby

After a long day at work I decided that rather than stopping at my regular stop I would continue into Sheffield and watch a Friday evening game in the 6 Nations. On leaving the station I jumped in a taxi and asked the driver to take me to a pub which would be showing the match and served decent beer, which he duly did. At half time I was talking to another chap on the table and discussing other sporting interests we both explained our keen interest in rock climbing and then realised that we had climbed together some 20 years before.

Double donors (Cruciate Organs2)

As a postscript to 'Cruciate Organs' which featured the coincidence of organ donation with Babylon5's mention of the same subject, I now find Stephen Fry on QI telling a joke about motorcycle accidents to which the punchline was 'donors'. He went on to refer to the donation of bodily organs!

Cruciate Organs

Further to the litany of tv/irl coincidences. Two more happened today. I was online responding to the Humanist Uk report on the altering of organ donation to opt out,arguing that it must stay opt in,as a matter of civil liberty. At the same moment,Ambassador Mollari in Babylon5 on tv uttered the phrase " a veritable parade of internal organs" which was about as pertinent as could be. Whilst discussing this issue,and animal rights,I cropped a comment from the strand I was reading which mentioned the word 'cruciate' in regard to vegetables,a word I had never heard bef

The Persistence of Salinas

I write about my parents, J.R. and Frieda Brick, now both deceased. After retirement, they lived in Santa Cruz, California, and enjoyed travel. In the late 1970s, they traveled with another couple to Turkey. The two couples attended a concert one evening, and were talking about their towns; the other couple was from a different place in California.

Found months later

Walking (not ambling) in a public park with my sister one late afternoon (sun going down), I lost a bead off my silver hair stick, I had lost the other hair stick of the pair months earlier, I don't know where. I said we should look for the bead when we loop back around the track. Well, I forgot to look and after we had passed the area where I thought I had lost it, I said as much. Within moments, I looked down and noticed a silver stick on the gravel walkway. It was the silver hair stick I had lost months earlier. I felt like I had just emerged from some kind of time/worm hole.

Peter Pan Superman

I want to relate a couple of things that happened the last time my brother called over.These are very similar instances that I have related before - synchronous instances of the TV with conversation. The first case involved a remark Mel Gibson made about the tendency of modern mixed race families to result in what he termed 'blended' offspring.

Almost twins?

Driving one evening for dinner on our first date, I told this beautiful young woman that we could celebrate my birthday at dinner. She replied that we could celebrate hers too. "Wow, what a coincidence", I said. "And where were you born?" "Boston", she replied. "Wow, me too." "At what hospital?" I asked. "The US Naval Hospital," she replied.