For the love of coincidence

The thing about coincidence is that human beings love it.

We notice something interesting, then create an explanation, and that becomes part of us.

You found someone who listens to an unknown artist that your grandfather loves, and that you love too. And maybe just maybe, both of you have the exact same birthday.

What are the odds! “This must be him. I’m in love.”

It turns out that if I put 25 people into a room, there is more than a 50% chance that 2 people have the same exact birthday.

What are the odds! Well, 50%.

Here’s why you need to worry about coincidence: human beings want explanations, even for totally random events. So we make up stories, then we believe those stories.

So it’s no secret that scientist doesn’t believe every explanation that is thrown at them. They are skeptic precisely because they know that it’s easy for them to lie to themselves.

Richard Feynman, the scientist of scientists, famously said, “You should never, ever fool anybody and you are the easiest person to fool.”

So they go a step further and try hard to falsify their own theory. And even then, they still get it wrong. Remember the days where we are told to eat more bread?

I begin with this. Coincidences are real, and coincidences don’t matter. Coincidences make a good love story, but it might not be a good reason to sign on the dotted line.

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