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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Critical errors on understandinguncertainty.org

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How terribly strange

How terribly strange!. Something strange happened as my 70th birthday approached. I'm sure that will have had that annoying experience of having a song go round and round in your head and you can't get rid of it. You may have heard it on the radio or TV or blaring from a car at traffic lights. I've heard it referred to as an "earworm". You wake up in the morning and there it is again. Back in the 1960s I was quite a big Simon and Garfunkel fan. I had most of their albums and my friends and I played them over and over. One album, Bookends, is a particular favourite. I didn't own a copy but my friend John did and he was later to be best man at our wedding. He still lives in Belfast where I grew up and though we rarely see each other we have long phone conversations every 6 months or so. Now you may be wondering how, if at all, these two paragraphs are connected. A few days before my birthday I woke up with an earworm. The words and tune of a Bookends song were going round in my head. But I couldn't think how on earth it had got there. I had not heard that song for as long as I could remember.

Follow the White Rabbit

I found interesting vintage mars chocolate box. Later i went on my bicycle, there was mars paper next to a tire. I had a decision to take it in carbage or leave it on ground. I went in shop and had some spare coins in my pocket, it was the same amount as mars chocolate bar cost. I had decision to buy mars chocolate or not buy it. As i was sitting and eating mars chocolate, i found butterfly effect in my life.

Grasshopper story

I lay in bed in an upstairs bedroom in a house of Suffolk thinking for the second time that day, and probably in a decade, of the artist Edward Hopper after looking at pictures on the wall downstairs. As I did so I felt something brush against my arm, turned on the light and it was a grasshopper, which I unfortunately found dead near the washbasin the next morning. Insects rarely if ever brush my arm at night, and certainly not grasshoppers in England, and the coincidence convinced me of animal intelligence.

Surprise Surprise

On the same day, which is today, I saw my watch (on laptop, phone) three times only today, And all three times: first time: 13:13 (saw watch on my phone casually not with the intention of seeing time but these numbers stuck a chord and registered in my mind as they were similar) Second time: 21:21 (saw watch on my phone to check time) Third time: 23:11 (saw watch to check time on my laptop when my mom asked what it was) What are the chances really? 08.10.2021

You are not going to get away...

Before going to art college, I went to a party where I sat next to a beautiful girl. We discussed colleges we were going to, I, to Sheffield, her to Leeds. I never went to Sheffield but Newcastle upon Tyne instead. My grant was delayed for six weeks in term 1 because someone else's name had been put on it. At half term I wanted to move to a new flat, so I asked people on my fine art course if they knew of one. Frances was moving out of her share so I went round to look at it. There was the girl from the party, who had not gone to Leeds and whose name was the one on my grant cheque. She still controls my money and is the mother of our (now adult) children.

Discovering a relative

I live in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, but was born and lived for my first 30 years in Swansea. I have a daughter who is a teacher in a boarding school in Shrewsbury. She is also an Asst. Housemistress at one of the boarding houses. This term they have a new Matron. Matron has a dog, as does my daughter. I was visiting my daughter last week, and took her dog for a walk. He's a very friendly dog, and always wants to say hello to other dogs. We saw a woman with a dog, and the two dogs greeted each other and started boxing. I called my dog's name, and the other woman realised it was my daughter's dog, and introduced herself as the new Matron of the boarding house. We decided to let the dogs play, and had a chat about her new role, where we lived etc (she was from Liverpool, but had lived all over the world). She had to go back, and I was going to continue my walk, but then decided I'd walk back with her. She then asked if I'd always lived in Pembrokeshire. I told her that I was from Swansea, and she replied that her mother was from Swansea. I asked which part, and she said her mother was from Bonymaen, which is where both my parents lived.

Miss Pye

Pregnant with my second child in 1972, my husband and I looked for a house to buy. By chance, we ended up buying 18 Lansdowne Road, Chatham from the people who bought it from my parents in 1952 when I was five years old. I was born in that house in 1947, a home birth. I was due to have a home birth too, my midwife Mrs Nobbs was off duty the day I went into labour so the second midwife, Miss Pye, delivered me of our son. When my mother visited she told me that Miss Pye had delivered her of me, in the same bedroom, 25 years before!

Mathematician and metro

I usually carry a few books to read while travelling. That day I had three books with me. One was about mathematicians, other one was a novel and another on nature. I preferred the novel the most usually to read while on metro trains. That one day, I picked the book about Mathematicians. The book name is mathematical universe. I scrolled down the contents randomly and decided to read the Russell's paradox chapter. I started reading slowly the introduction part. I came to one particular part, "..Bertrand Arthur William Russell died on second of February, 1970.." Lo and behold, I felt crazy! Why? Because that day was 2nd February! (though the year was 2020).

Breakfast & the Mentalist

Never do I go out to eat breakfast. But that one day I was asked to parcel Semya (food name) by my sister who had come to visit us after a long time. The place where I went to pack the breakfast has a token system. My token number was 43. After I came back home, had some breakfast with my sister and bid her a goodbye, I switched on Mentalist. It was recommended by my sister. I scrolled down a few episodes, picked some random episode and clicked on it. Then and there my heart went bam! There was a scene where the person who was lying dead on floor had number '43' written on their hand! What are the chances that I would see the number 43 twice in such short duration and at such odd places! P.S If its not number 43 it must be some other number. But I am 100 percent sure it was the same number in both these places (breakfast shop token number and the number on dead person's hand in mentalist)

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