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. The program also includes quirky first-person accounts of coincidence from writers, filmmakers, identical twins, and others, and from the producer of this show, who experienced an unusual coincidence while working on it. With commentary by John Hockenberry.