Witbreuksweg dormitory

Meaningful coincidences

Is it possible to prove that this universe is a virtual reality created by post-humans? The properties of this universe can’t be used to this aim. But there may be another way. If we live inside a virtual reality there might be a script. And if there is a script then this universe probably is a virtual reality. Presumably someone must be running the show in that case. Such a script might generate meaningful coincidences we can recognise. And indeed, peculiar coincidences happen, for instance similar extremely rare events happening on the same day.

On 15 July 2011 two television towers in the Netherlands caught fire. One collapsed in a spectacular way. There never had been a fire in a television tower in the Netherlands before while those television towers had been there for more than fifty years. And the number of television towers was small, making such an incident even more improbable. This caused some speculation as to a common cause. This is unlikely as these towers are two individual masts in different areas.1

The following happened to me. In 1992 I was making a bike trip in Groningen where I lived back then. While I was on my way a car door suddenly opened just in front of me. I could barely avoid a collision. Some ten minutes later, while I was still on the same trip, it happened again with another car on another road. Remarkably, it never happened before or after this trip that a car door just opened in front of me, even though I made bike trips nearly every day.

Incidents like these might be mere random events. The law of large numbers states that bizarre accidents happen all the time by chance. There is no way of calculating the odds of an event like two television towers catching fire in one country in one day because these events are extremely rare. The probability of each of these events happening is extremely low, but the number of possible rare accidents is extremely high.

But how low and how high? That matters a lot. If there are a million of these events, and the odds of one of them happening on a certain day is one in a million, we shouldn’t be surprised to see such events happening. On average an event like that should happen every day. But if the odds are one in a trillion, and these events happen quite often, we may be on to something, because on average it should happen once in a million days.

We attribute meaning in many different ways and we are not inclined to think of randomness in the case of unusual events. The number of possible meaningful coincidences is close to infinite so it should not suprise us that meaningful coincidences happen. On the other hand, bizarre meaningful coincidences are more likely to happen to someone but are less likely to happen to you or me. A curious coincidence like two television towers catching fire on the same day is less remarkable than this happening twice. And a complex scheme of meaningful coincidences has more significance than a simple incident like two car doors opening in front of you on the same day.

There were plenty of unusual incidents in my life. It seems there is something more. Once I entered a do-it-yourself store. There was a couch near the entrance. The price tag was € 389. This caught my attention because as a student I lived in dormitory 389 on the campus of the University of Twente. Price tags often end with a nine so the incident wasn’t impressive. Then I realised that it would be far more curious to find a price tag of € 401 as I also lived on domitory 401 and price tags rarely end with a 1.

A few seconds later I ran into a pile of bags of potting soil. These bags had 40l conspicuously printed on them, noting that they contained forty litres of potting soil. That was close enough to 401 to be intriguing. Even more so because dormitory 401 is the place from which I had been evicted by a certain lady. And peculiar coincidences referring to her had been happening over the years.

Two years later I came back to the same store. Bags of potting soil with the 40l marking were situated outside near the entrance. This reminded me of the previous incident. There was no couch near the entrance nor did I see a price tag of € 389 there. These things I noticed while I proceeded to fetch the one item I was planning to buy. The price of this item turned out to be € 3.89.

This scheme is more intricate than two television towers catching fire or two car doors opening in front of you on the same day, most notably because there was a repeating pattern while these incidents also appear to be part of a larger scheme, in this case of a sequence of peculiar coincidences referring to a certain lady. The first coincidence was already remarkable. The second one was truly inconceivable if you come to think of it, or perhaps not, if you are a sceptic.

Featured image: Number 381 dormitory. University Of Twente (2013). [copyright info]

1. Onderzoek: Hoe konden twee zendmasten vandaag in brand vliegen? Algemeen Dagblad (15-07-2011). [link]

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