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Thread: At what point do coincidences stop being coincidences?

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    Veteran Member Sarpedon's Avatar
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    At what point do coincidences stop being coincidences?

    Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?

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    Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action. - Auric Goldfinger

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?
    When you can demonstrate what the unseen link is, obviously.

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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    Is there an accepted method to determine when it is sound to think that coincidences aren't random? I'm talking in every day life, where things happen without lab conditions, and the mind makes connections between things in a free form way. We all know the mind loves to make connections, but is there a point where one can say, "aha! there is some unseen link?" because sometimes there is, isn't there?
    Well it's a process.

    A coincidence is the inspiration to hypothesise that an unknown cause is in play.

    A hypothesis is the inspiration to conduct rigorous analysis of events.

    A rigorous analysis that doesn't cause the coincidence to disappear might confirm or refute your initial hypothesis; If it refutes the hypothesis, a new hypothesis should be formed.

    If you can't (or won't) perform a rigorous analysis, then you abdicate your right to claim that the coincidence has any significance.

    Of course, you can believe any crazy shit you like; But you shouldn't expect others to accept your crazy belief as fact (even provisionally) unless you can provide more evidence than mere informal coincidence.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    The sky is cloudy. Do you see wet streets? No. Coincidence?

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    Veteran Member Lion IRC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    At what point do coincidences stop being coincidences?
    "The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."


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    Fair dinkum thinkum bilby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lion IRC View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Sarpedon View Post
    At what point do coincidences stop being coincidences?
    "The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type any given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare."

    Sure; But it would almost certainly take an infinite amount of time to locate any given large text within the infinite garbage thus produced.

    And as we are incapable of experiencing such infinities, the whole theorem is a mere mathematical curiosity, useful only for illustrating the oddities that arise when you start considering infinities.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Probability of coincidence: Sagan Inflation: trillions and trillions

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    An intersection of two lines on a plane is just a coincidence. An intersection of two lines in space is more than a coincidence. An intersection of any three or more lines is more than just a coincidence.

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    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Probability can be a harsh mistress. Something associated can be just coincidental.

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