Sunday, January 18, 2015

Literally Speaking

It bothers me when people attribute pure happenstance to alignment of the celestial bodies or control by a higher power. They say What a coincidence as if sarcastically, and yet, that's exactly what "coincidence" is.

According to Merriam-Webster.com, coincidence is "the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection." When things appear to have a connection, regardless of whether they do or not, is literally coincidence. That is what a coincidence is.

The universe is vast and complicated and ridiculous, and sometimes impossible things just happen, and we call them coincidences. (That's me, intentionally butchering a Doctor Who quote.)

While ninety-nine percent of the profiles considered on Criminal Minds actually do describe me as a person, I'm not a criminal (well, not yet, at least). That is part coincidence and part not. The part that's not coincidence is that a great many of the things they describe about their potential "un-sub" also happen to fit a great many people, whether they're actually anything like me or the criminal on the show or not. The coincidence is that I happen to match the majority of whatever is left.

Whatever happens may seem unlikely and incredulous, but the fact f the matter is that it happens all the time. Coincidences are constantly happening, but only when we think of things in just the right perspective do we notice them.

You may go to church or a place of worship one day out of the blue and discover that the lesson or sermon is exactly the sort of thing that you needed to hear. For you and anyone going through the same things you are, this could be attributed to the will of a higher power, and for places of worship, this is more likely true. On the other hand, if could have absolutely nothing to do with anything you're going through, so for you, it's not an event worth noticing; but for someone else in the crowd, it may very well be exactly what they needed to hear.

Only those events that spark a reaction in your perspective appear as coincidences, while all else is background static disregarded as uneventful moments in life. It's easy to pick and choose what moments are biased towards your perspective to skew the random results toward appearing as coincidence.

And that bias isn't coincidence at all.

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