Meaningful Coincidences

We’ve all experienced it – a friend calls just as we are thinking of him, or a romantic partner has the same birthday we do. Some coincidences are small, and seemingly inconsequential, but others have the potential to change lives. What causes a coincidence to happen, and what does it mean? Is every coincidence meaningful? And what are the odds of a particular coincidence happening? This week we explore the nature of coincidence with scientists, psychotherapists, mathematicians, and people like you.

Guests include: Jungian analyst and psychotherapist Robert Hopcke, who has authored books on coincidence and the related theory of synchronicity (“Coincidences are meaningful for what they tell us about ourselves”); cognitive scientist Josh Tenenbaum at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who studies how coincidences work in the brain (“They seem to be the source of some of our greatest irrationalities”); and statistician Karl Sigman at Columbia University, who computes the odds that coincidences will happen.

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