A Statistician’s Approach to Coincidences (Part 2), A Statistician’s Approach to Coincidences, Part 4. The frequentists rely on the familiar bell shaped curve while Bayesians insist that subjective estimates of probability play an important role in determining a final probability. In future posts I will explore how statisticians, psychologists and pragmaticians look at coincidence probabilities. Given the importance of probability in defining coincidences, I combed some of the simpler math literature to come up with an approach. Get the help you need from a therapist near you–a FREE service from Psychology Today. Could Vigorous Physical Exercise Help People Live Longer? PROBABILITY OF COINCIDENCE M A Muller MSc PhD University of Stellenbosch _____ SUMMARY Coincidences are more common than most people might expect. The probability of a coincidence is calculated by first looking at the base rate (frequency of occurrence) of each of the two independent events. h�bbd``b`��@�� H�|�Y��x��6��$�����8A�k�2�� d12)�La`�����G� �E' We also factor in the length of time since you last communicated with your friend. 673 0 obj <>/Filter/FlateDecode/ID[]/Index[659 32]/Info 658 0 R/Length 74/Prev 347826/Root 660 0 R/Size 691/Type/XRef/W[1 2 1]>>stream Then consider the window of time between the thought of your friend and the friend contacting you. Used with permission of Dan Hunt, MD. The Neuroscience of Feeling Surprised by Unpredictability, The Scarab: Jung Created a Coincidence within a Coincidence. I concluded that base rates, personal meaning and time windows contribute to the probability of a coincidence. h��VmO�0�+��*��o�Ry)T&�n��C�^��&U&���s��@��1M�k�|�;�ϓ;m$aDE �&"0�b9�- U }H8לh����'\Y A����p�BH"�U0PDH�0+�"T �%�H� I�� GG�����,���.�t�. She explores the new frontiers of science, delving into ideas that could help uncover the mysteries of our wondrous world. Generally speaking, statistics is concerned with the past (the collected data) while probability is concerned with the future (the likelihood that something will happen). 659 0 obj <> endobj The higher the probability of an event, the more certain we are that the event will occur. My confidence was bolstered by having gotten a Double A in a probability theory seminar at Swarthmore College. Also, different kinds of coincidences require different probability approaches. The two most prominent current methods  are the “frequentist” and Bayesian methods. endstream endobj startxref He is the former chair of the University of Missouri-Columbia department of psychiatry. Their improbability stimulates wonder—“what are the odds of this happening?” Probability theory, which is a branch of mathematics, promises to shed light on this defining aspect of meaningful coincidences. We come to the best possible conclusion about (say) the probability of Probability theory began in the 16th century in attempts to analyze games of chance like dice, playing cards, and roulette wheels.. So this single thought about your friend, measured against all the thoughts about other people you’ve had over the years, has a pretty low base rate. It is quite possible that different pieces of evidence that seem to point in the same direction do so coincidentally. Probability usually, but not always, relies on data from statistics to make its predictions. �<5�X>M�w@���Ƥ�Y�Z�m60:��X����10HNLT���er�džI��%[��� �%*���b�t��3�搧���n��a��P�A�A��������A�A���)�Q������(��A�r�{CX�O���r���^LS�v0�31]gfaNbvaҙc���p�A��Ř�C���*�ـ�+�4#� �����e`�0 3I� What is the base rate for contacts by friends from whom you have not heard for a “long” time? %PDF-1.5 %���� If your friend communicates something of vital importance to you,  the coincidence becomes more improbable than if the friend just wanted to say “Hi”? For example, you think of a friend whom you have not thought about in years, and that friend contacts you shortly afterwards. 14 Traits Found in Highly Religious People, Research Suggests That Synchronicities Can Aid Psychotherapy, A New Personality Test Also Gauges Mental Health, Psychology Today © 2020 Sussex Publishers, LLC. %%EOF Probability is the measure of the likeliness that an event will occur. The probability of a coincidence is calculated by first looking at the base rate (frequency of occurrence) of each of the two independent events. Time windows. Even if we could solve this problem with complex equations involving time windows and personal meaning, a more fundamental problem precedes the development of the complex equations: how do we determine the actual base rates of each leg of the coincidence? h�b```�D��B cb��� Since then several sometimes conflicting methods of assessing probability have been developed. Since the events are independent, the probability that none occur is given by the product of the probabilities of each not occurring, ... coincidence. Why are so many people drawn to conspiracy theories in times of crisis? The probability is 1/2 (or a 50% chance) of either "heads" or "tails". Then the probability of the coincidence is 0.005 x 0.01, or 0.0005 which is quite low, but certainly possible. The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. Would Moving to a New City or Country Make You Happier? Co-authored by Tara MacIsaac a reporter for the Epoch Times and editor for the Beyond Science section. A week since the last contact would make the coincidence far more likely than several years since the last contact. calculation. And what about the importance of the contact to you and your friend? The calculation of the probability of this common coincidence becomes a daunting task. 7 Rules of Friendship Can Improve Your Romantic Relationship. What is the base rate for thinking of a friend? We could similarly estimate the base rate of contact from that friend at 0.01, or 1 time out of 100 contacts. The probability of this satisfactory coincidence is first evaluated, and it is found that the solution, while mathematically adequate, is of no value for practical application. For example, “meeting someone who helps you to advance in work, career or education” will require different formulas than coincidences involving people who have numerous characteristics in common, like doppelgangers. endstream endobj 660 0 obj <>/Metadata 98 0 R/Pages 657 0 R/StructTreeRoot 115 0 R/Type/Catalog>> endobj 661 0 obj <>/MediaBox[0 0 595.32 842.04]/Parent 657 0 R/Resources<>/Font<>/ProcSet[/PDF/Text/ImageB/ImageC/ImageI]>>/Rotate 0/StructParents 0/Tabs/S/Type/Page>> endobj 662 0 obj <>stream A simple example is the toss of a coin. Personal meaning. This circumstance arises from the possibility that, with certain rational ratios of the periods, the events may "lock in step".

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