Cambridge Coincidences Collection

As of the 23rd May 2022 this website is archived and will receive no further updates.

was produced by the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk based in the Statistical Laboratory in the University of Cambridge. The aim was to help improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining.

Many of the animations were produced using Flash and will no longer work.

Well I Never!

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

Audience Member Knows My Name

I was performing for Mortified (a show where you read your most embarrassing childhood diary entries out loud to strangers) in Portland, Oregon. My diary entries were about my time as a high schooler when my family lived in Singapore, and how much culture shock I experienced and how much I hated the country. There were lots of angry rants that had the audience laughing. After the show a girl walks up to me and says "are you [my full name]?" Mind you, performers only go by their first names at shows. I was shocked and said yes. She said that she was the girlfriend of a friend of mine from Singapore who I hadn't spoken to in close to 7 years. She had recognized me from my stories and facts lining up with his stories of our time at high school in Singapore. He had moved from Singapore to Seattle, and had a long-distance relationship with this girl, who lived in Portland and happened to have come to the show I was performing in; performing stories about her boyfriend's high school friends in Singapore! It was a bizarre and surreal experience.

Unexpected Payphone Call

This happened to me back in the early 2000s or late 1990s. My aunt and mother and I were visiting family in a different city and my aunt was baking a cake. She had forgotten some key ingredients though and me and my mother offered to go to the store to pick them up. When we got there a payphone began ringing nearby and my mother decided to answer it. She began talking to the other person in a very familiar tone and when I asked who it was she said it was my aunt who had misdialed a family members phone number. It was quite strange for her to have managed to misdial the exact payphone near where we were going.

The Birthday Brigade

To begin I will note that I grew up with a hippie mother, doing astrology charts. Ever since childhood, I have always automatically linked a person with their birthday and sun sign. I will remember a person's sun sign before I remember their name. A few years ago I began working at a restaurant as a supplemental job, where I would work when the most significant things in my life happened career-wise(positive). Familial emotional and mental abuse from the past and up until that time were acting as a barrier to realizing my full potential. I couldn't get rid of the familial voices telling me I can't do anything right OR My (once supplemental, turned full time) restaurant job. During that time I was named Woman of the Year, ran for political office, was appointed to my city's Human Rights Committee by the mayor- yet still couldn't seem to quit my full time restaurant job to pursue much better opportunities. They treated me like sh*t at that restaurant. And at the time I thought of them like family. Both were representative of my own mental chains holding me back.

Meeting abroad

I am from the US, but I was working as a bartender in a burger pub in England while studying there. I heard another American accent in the bar and I spoke to the patron. It was quite rare to meet another American in the area, as it wasn't near London and didn't have a large international population. We started chatting and it turned out they were visiting from Virginia. I mentioned that I had lived in Virginia for a time. They asked where. I said a small town in Northern Virginia. They said, "oh I live in a small town in Virginia!" It turns out they were from the same small town in Virginia that I had lived in for several years. A town of perhaps 5,000 people, and they happened to walk into a bar in a small town in England where I was working.

Hola Senor

Was on a road trip with friends, venturing to all the National Parks west of the Mississippi. Stop into a small drive bar/pizza joint to eat on the way out of Yellowstone. Man at the table next to us is is my friend's high school Spanish teacher, from a small town on the coast of Oregon. Yet there they both were, in the same bar at the same night in the same podunk town outside of the same National Park.

Same school story

My history teacher lived in Vancouver Canada before coming to the UK to teach. He told us a funny story involving a cow coming into the school as a sort of prank that him and his friends orchestrated. A year later while browsing Reddit I found a user describe the exact same events including the whole “cow came into the school” as the history teacher told us in class. I never found out if they also lived in Vancouver or knew my teacher but it’s eerily similar to my teachers story and a coincidence that a I linked a story a man told us all the way in the UK to a story on the massive internet.

"Most Wanted" connection

In the 1990s I lived in Arizona. I worked for a grocery chain, and on one occasion I worked an overnight shift at a store across town. (I would occasionally pick up extra shifts at that store). After the overnight shift I learned that the armored car servicing a movie theater in the same shopping plaza had been robbed, and the driver killed. Later that summer I moved to France to do some religious service. This allowed me to move around northern France every few months. I returned home, started classes at Arizona State, and eventually transferred to a school in Utah to finish my degree. One day I got a call from a local FBI agent who wanted to talk to me about the armored car robbery from years earlier. The suspect -- who is still on the Most Wanted list -- shared several eerie connections with me, and law enforcement was convinced I was in contact with him. 1. Working the overnight shift (far from home), I had been in the vicinity of the armed robbery the day it happened. 2. My childhood home was two blocks away from the suspect's childhood home. 3. We at one point attended the same church. 4.

Grand dad's war buddy

Back in High School, about 2005, my younger brother and I had made a friend named Bryan. We all hit it off and would hang out all the time and it didn't take long until I ended up at his place to hang out after school one day. He'd told me about his dad, actually his grandfather, and said I'd probably think he was cool. So he finally gets home from whatever he was doing that day and he's a big Irish guy from Chicago so he's loud and funny and full of smiles and politeness. After a couple minutes he says I looked just like his buddy from back in the day and that he threw the best parties. I asked him what his buddies name was and sure as hell it was my grandfather. They went to school together and joined the marines together and worked together after Korea. We lived about 40 miles from where they grew up and it just blew me away that after 50 years two old war buddies grandkids would meet and become friends when there's millions of people around and our grandparents hadn't lived near each other since the 60's.

Classmate coincidence

I was camping in France when after a day i noticed a familiar person. It was one of my classmates, i come from The Netherlands so that of the hundreds of campings we could’ve chosen we chose the same one at around the same time

Bumping into your neighbor across the world.

My family happened to run into our front-door neighbor while in a train station in Zurich, Switzerland. We are from Florida.