Why Coincidences Happen: The Psychology and Mathematics Behind Rare Events

Nov 3, 2015

Coincidences happen to everyone -- whether it's hearing a song you've been thinking about all day on the radio or running into an old acquaintance whose name recently came up in conversation. For events so seemingly unlikely, coincidences certainly have a way of happening quite often. And now, after much study, psychologists and mathematicians think they know why.

According to their research, many of the events we deem to be coincidental are actually the result of the way we think, behave, and otherwise interact with our environments. And to demystify these phenomena even further, statisticians are now arguing that in some cases, these rare occurrences are actually mathematically inevitable.

This hour we talk about the surprising new research on the nature of coincidences in our daily lives. We'll also hear from experts about the mathematics and psychology behind gambling, the lottery, and other games of chance.


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Colin McEnroe and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.