25 April 2013
COINCIDENCE OR DESTINY OR NEITHER?
Here's an excerpt from a thoughtful discussion by science writer Kyle Hill on the significance (if any) of the coincidences we happen to notice in our lives ~
"I have written before about understanding the statistics of coincidences, making the point that even having a dream that seemingly predicted the future isn't all that amazing. Still, coincidences have the staying power to survive attempts to rationally explain them away. Blame it on your attention.
"Your attention ~ the ability to focus your mental life on one problem or conversation or task ~ is a lighthouse in the night. The illuminating part spins around and around, lighting up important areas but missing most of the sea and land. Of the billions or trillions (choose a very large number) of events that happen around the world each day, each second, you are only privy to a few. By the numbers alone, there are bound to be numerous crazy grandmother photobombs that no one will ever recognize.
" .... Like human concepts of good and evil, right and wrong, Kirk or Picard, meaning only arises because of us. If humans were extinguished from the universe, would it still make sense to call an action on Earth good or bad? Similarly, when a bunch of particles interact with another bunch of particles, it takes one of us to grant it meaning. And coincidences have their own special kind of meaning. There is poetry to them ~ they seem special.
" .... Coincidences are meaningful. They let us share experiences and come closer together. Great coincidence tales can span generations, or create a family narrative that everyone rallies around. But coincidences are not cosmically meaningful in the way many are taken to be. Coincidences aren't portents of fate or the cosmos slapping you around, and it is still mistaken to assume that a coincidence was too miraculous to have happened, if it did indeed happen. Connecting A to B can make for a great story or experience, but remember that you connected those events, not the universe."