The illusion of coincidences: Why do we see patterns where there are none?

Photo by Chris Linnett on Unsplash

Do you ever have one of those moments where you think to yourself, “It’s a small world”? You may be surprised to learn that this feeling is more than just a coincidence. It’s what psychologists call the “illusion of coincidences.”

This phenomenon occurs when we see patterns in random events and assign meaning to them. We often do this because it gives us a sense of control in a chaotic world. However, this can lead us down a rabbit hole of false beliefs and irrational thinking.

So, what is it about illusions that gets our attention? And what are the patterns that lead us down a different path than the one we are on?

What are coincidences?

Coincidences are events that appear to be related but are unrelated. They are often surprising or unlikely, and can sometimes be seen as meaningful. However, it is important to remember that coincidences are usually just the result of chance.

There are many different types of coincidences, but they all have one thing in common – they are not related. For example, you may go to a party and meet someone who shares your birthday. This may seem like a meaningful coincidence, but it’s just a result of the fact that there are a lot of people in the world and some of them are bound to share your birthday.

Coincidences can be interesting to think about, but it’s important to remember that they don’t mean anything.

The psychology behind why we see patterns in coincidences

Do you ever have one of those moments where you see a coincidence and it just seems too good to be true? You might see a license plate with your birthday on it or hear a song on the radio that reminds you of someone you know. These moments can be surprising and even a little bit magical.

But have you ever wondered why we see patterns in coincidences? It turns out there’s a psychology behind it. When we see a coincidence, our brain is trying to make sense of it and find a pattern. This is because our brain likes to find order in chaos. It’s a survival mechanism that helps us make sense of the world around us.

So the next time you see a coincidence, don’t be too quick to write it off. It might just be your brain trying to tell you something.

Examples of notorious coincidences

A coincidence is defined as an observable coincidence in which chance is the most likely explanation. In some cases, however, the events that take place are so improbable that they defy explanation by chance alone. These are known as ‘notorious coincidences’.

Some examples of notorious coincidences include:

– The assassinations of Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, which both took place on a Friday, were both carried out by men with the initials ‘L.H.’

– The September 11th terrorist attacks, which took place on the same day as the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993

– The Titanic sank on its maiden voyage, after hitting an iceberg on April 14th, 1912 – the same day as the sinking of the RMS Lusitania.

These are just a few examples of the many notorious coincidences that have occurred.

Why do we see patterns in coincidences?

There is a phenomenon known as the recency illusion, which is the tendency for people to remember recent events more vividly than older ones. This can lead us to overestimate the frequency of certain events and to see patterns where there may be none.

For example, if you have a string of unlucky coincidences, you may start to believe that you’re cursed. But it’s just the recency illusion at work. We tend to remember the most recent events more vividly than older ones, so it’s natural to feel like the string of bad luck is never-ending.

There’s also the availability heuristic, which is the tendency to judge the likelihood of an event by how easy it is to recall similar events. This can lead us to overestimate the probability of rare events because they are more likely to be top of mind than more common events.

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