Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Of course I remember you ...

I could not work what the greeting was exactly, as it was shouted from a moving van, but I knew it was meant for me. The man was leaning out of the window smiling at me. I realized, to my embarrassment, that I didn't recognise him though he clearly knew me! I stared at his retreating form, unsure whether to smile or wave. In the end I did neither. In the meantime was mind was in overdrive. I tried to imagine what someone I hadn't met for years might look like today. But I still drew a blank.

Then, on an impulse, I looked behind me. There, just a few metres away, was a man who could have been the brother of the one in the van. It became obvious that the greeting was meant for this other person and I just happened to be directly in the line of sight! So mystery over - it was just a coincidence. But I did wonder, what if I had never looked round? I would still be wondering how the van man knew me and where from. And what made me turn round? I suppose the unconscious bit of my brain had guessed the solution to the puzzle even if the conscious bit had not!

It was not a startling coincidence as these things go. But so many coincidences can be readily interpreted as paranormal - see here for some examples and more explanation. For an excellent set of coincidences, see the Cambridge Coincidences Collection here.

So how weird does a coincidence have to be for it to be considered paranormal? Is it a one in million chance? One in a billion? Or is it when it is considered meaningful by the people involved? It's an almost impossible question to answer and, perhaps, for another day!

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