Creepy, Creative, Cringe-Worthy and Crazy Coincidence
Coincidence can be a creepy thing. It almost feels prophetic when coincidence happens. Personally weird coincidences happen to me several times a week. Yes. A week. These are silly incidents that mean nothing but allow me to demonstrate. I had a weird dream one night about a dysfunctional family. It was a television program. I wanted to watch it because I found it interesting. Later that day, I turned on the television and there was a program playing about a dysfunctional family, rather but not entirely like, the family in my dream. An hour later, my brother telephoned me to tell me that a family member was going to sue me for an extremely similar reason as the television family. Talk about dysfunctional. And coincidental.
Still, these are minor karma infractions compared to these incidents:
Saved Twice by the Same Man
In Detroit sometime in the 1930s, a young (if incredibly careless) mother must have been twice eternally grateful to Joseph Figlock. As Figlock was walking down the street, the mother’s baby fell from a high window onto Figlock. The baby’s fall was broken and both man and baby were unharmed. A stroke of luck on its own, but a year later, the very same baby fell from the very same window onto Joseph Figlock as he was again passing beneath. And again, they both survived the event. That’s a keeper.
Homicide or Suicide?
This case is fiction and in fact has a number of variations to it. It is so hilarious with so many twists I had to include it. You may be familiar with the name Ronald Opus, a young man who attempted to commit suicide but accidentally arranged for his own homicide. Ronald Opus decided to commit suicide by jumping from the top of a ten-story building. He didn’t know that a safety net had been strung below the eighth floor by some construction workers and that would have saved his life. As Mr. Opus fell past the ninth floor he was hit in the head by a shotgun blast and killed. The coroner wanted to decide who was responsible, and this was his line of reasoning:
1. The shot that killed Ronald Opus was from a shotgun being used by a man arguing with his wife. He pulled the trigger, missed his wife, and shot Ronald Opus as he fell past his window.
2. The man who shot the gun said he didn’t know it was loaded and that when he got mad, he threatened his wife with an unloaded gun. Therefore, according to the coroner, he was not guilty of murder.
3. The couple’s son had been seen loading the shotgun.
4. That son was Ronald Opus who knew that his father threatened his mom with the unloaded shotgun so planned on his mom being shot. He was mad at her for cutting him off financially.
5. Therefore, according to the coroner, Ronald Opus was guilty of having arranged for a murder, being that of his mother but which turned out to be his own, so he was guilty of murdering himself. The case was closed as a suicide. Now if that doesn’t make you split a gut laughing, what will?
The Titan and the Titanic
Of course you have heard of the Titanic but you may not be familiar with the fictitious “The Wreck of the Titan or, Futility“, written by Morgan Robertson in 1898, 14 years before the Titanic sailed. There are many uncanny coincidences between the sinking of the fictitious Titan and the Titanic. of course there are many significant differences too. Similarities include:
Both ships over 800 feet long. They both were known as “unsinkable”. They both sunk in the North Atlantic. They both didn’t have enough lifeboats. They both had 3000 passengers.
- Struck an iceberg
- Moving at 22½ knots the Titanic struck an iceberg on the starboard side, on the night of April 14, 1912, in the North Atlantic, 400 nautical miles away from Newfoundland.
- Moving at 25 knots, The Titan struck an iceberg on the starboard side on an April night in the North Atlantic, 400 nautical miles from Newfoundland (Terranova).
- The unsinkable Titanic sank, and more than half of her 2200 passengers and crew died.
- The indestructible Titan also sank, more than half of her 2500 passengers drowned.
- The Titanic went down bow first, the Titan actually capsizing before it sank. Brrrr. Mighty cold those waters. In fact ,many people did drown when the Titanic sank but even more died of hypothermia in the frigid water – they froze to death. Nasty.
- This isn’t related to the coincidence topic of this blog, but sadly, I heard a documentary recently, where a sailor who survived the Titanic sinking, claimed that a crewmate working in the telegraph room told him he received a message from another ship, stating that the waters ahead were very icy. The crewmate took the message and placed it beneath a paperweight, forgetting to deliver it. Had the captain received the message, the Titanic’s engines would have shut down, the ship wouldn’t have continued on its course, and probably wouldn’t have run into the berg. Perhaps human error is creepier than coincidence.
I researched an article in Psychology Today for this blog, called Hunting for Coincidences by Keja Perina. Perina shed a very intriguing light on what constitutes coincidence. In fact, he argued that there is actually no such thing. Our brains are pattern-seeking [and tend to] notice coincidences….strikes people as somewhere between notable and miraculous, even though it can be explained by our brain’s capacity for selective attention. So there it is: there really isn’t any such thing as coincidence as there is our tendency to create it. There’s an old and odd term for this behaviour: the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. This gang was once a German urban guerrilla group. The origins of the group can be traced back to the student protest movement in West Germany. It began in the late 1960s during social upheavals after World War II, and the Cold War. Issues such as racism, and women’s liberation were of extreme importance in left-wing politics. The Red Army Faction in its earliest stages was the BM group – post-WWII extreme leftist military types. RAF described itself as a communist and anti-imperialist group engaged in armed resistance against a fascist state. Apparently they didn’t get the memo the Second World War was over. Meinhof was not a leader of the RAF, but her involvement in Baader’s escape from jail led to her name becoming attached to it. Myself, I do not understand the BM’s connection to coincidence. If anyone does, I would love to hear it (kindly quote your source so I can research it myself).
An explanation for supposed coincidence was offered in an article entitled A Skeptic Recalls Uusual Experiences: We forget about all the times when the laws of chance prevail. Over the course of a lifetime, there are a lot of coincidental events that take place just because, well, a lot of things happen to all of us. Belief in coincidence is where many odd superstitions hail from:
- Dont walk under a ladder or something bad will happen to you (in reality – you will probably bump into it and it will fall on your stupid head).
- Black cats cause bad luck. This hails back to those nasty Salem Witch Hunts in Salem, Massachusettes. Anything black was associated with evil, due to the pandemonium of a belief in witchcraft. Interesting, considering the Puritan community in Salem usually wore modest black or brown clothing. That’s not a coincidence. I would call that irony. Or stupidity.
- Breaking a mirror causes 7 years bad luck. How many mirrors have I broken? Probably seven (haha). So far as I can tell, 7 years after the last breakage my so-called bad luck hasn’t happened. Anyone who can find a pattern in a broken mirror and experiencing 7 years of bad luck must have been the saddest loser ever. of course, it’s all in the perspective and what you define as luck.
- Stepping on a spider causes it to rain. By now, every one of us should own our own personal Noah’s Ark.
I do believe Perina and his research of Matthew Huston’s theory about coincidence are at the heart of this stuff. All it takes is a person to step on a spider a few times, it rains right afterward, and there you have your oddball myth. It’s quite cool however that our brains seek out patterns to that extent. It means we are intelligent, evolved beings who are constantly making associations based on analysis and experimentation. In science, for instance, there isn’t an Aha! moment, says Isaac Asimov. Rather, someone says “that’s funny.” Carl Jung believed that such events are not mere coincidences at all, but what he called synchronicity or meaningful coincidence. ‘Synchronicity,’ said Jung, ‘is the coming together of inner and outer events in a way that cannot be explained by cause and effect and that is meaningful to the observer.’ So what that means, then, is that synchronous events are meaningful when they have meaning for you. This is the rational view of coincidence, discovery, and association.
There is an opposing view about coincidence. Dr. Deepak Chopra, author of The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire, argued that, coincidences are a glimpse into the creative mind or the universe or the cosmos. I’ve interviewed leaders of the world ….. [who have said] the secret of their success is, ‘I was lucky. I happened to be in the right place at the right time. ‘ A lot of people work hard and have education but in the end, the difference determines this and this.” There is a deeper insight into everyday minor coincidence and that of the cosmos, of course. It appears that Chopra sees fate in most of what happens to people. Meh. The jury’s out on that one. Myself, I attribute much of it to hard work and networking. And coincidence (ha).
Mind you, both odds and rationality and the cosmos could factor in quite well with 9-1-1. There are 4 coincidences or pattern-making or creative power of the mind in that scenario that are all inter-related:
- The date of the disaster – 9-1-1.
- 9-1-1 is an acronym for emergency help.
- 9-1-1 proved costly in an immediate way to both the government and its people. The US had to beef up national security and has done so with billions of dollars, namely taxpayers’.
- The banks dropped interest rates literally overnight to 0%, a godsend for the many millions who were in debt since the mortgage crisis. Interest levels were dropped to ensure taxpayers had enough money to fund increased national security. Coincidence? Who knows?
Most people understand and accept that urban myths and weird coincidence is irrational, but somehow we like that little thrill of the “uncanny“, something we endow with the mysticism to surprise. It’s fun. Silly, but fun. In fact, as I was researching Salem witch hunt for this blog, I accidentally typed in Salem witch hung…most of the accused witches were hung after trial. Wow. What a coincidence (not). Now that you’ve read this blog don’t be surprised when a number of coincidences happen to you today or this week. You’re unconsciously seeking patterns more than ever given this information. Sorry about that. However it makes for entertaining moments. Enjoy!
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