I've never really been one for the nomadic life. Moreover, as a devoted student of the natural sciences, I have brushed off horoscopes, palmistry, and tarot cards as superstitious scams aimed to satisfy the curiosities and hopes of the desperate and feeble. However, the eerily 'coincidental' and 'psychic' happenings my roommate and I have experienced in recent weeks almost caused me to doubt whether pseudoscience really is pseudoscience. Almost. Allow me to explain.
I would far exceed the word count quota if I were to enumerate here all the predictions and coincidences I have encountered recently. Nonetheless, I will share a few. In the past three days, my roommate and I have collectively found six dimes on the ground at various locations around the U. During this time, we did not chance upon any other coins randomly lying around (no pennies, no quarters). Take, as another example, the following situation of apparent "jinxing": About an hour after mentioning to my roommate that a couple of our friends who were dating had "been together for a while," their relationship status on Facebook changed to "single."
More examples? While sitting in my biology class, I decided it would be neat to do a project on genetically modified cats. We have never specifically discussed cats in class, and I'm not particularly interested in cats, but the idea just came to mind for some reason. When I went on Moodle that night, the first sample article my professor had posted was exactly about that: a GMO cat modified to glow in the dark. Additionally, my roommate and I have recently been seemingly reading each others minds, finishing each others sentences, and encountering the same odd coincidences independently in the same day. We thought perhaps we should harness our psychic powers, drop out of school and become gypsies. Jokingly, of course.
While all these coincidences seem to suggest something supernatural, in all honesty, I realize that calling ourselves fortune-tellers or mind-readers is simply an example of apophenia, a phenomenon which our textbook describes as the "tendency to perceive meaningful connections among unrelated phenomena." What are the chances that all of those coincidences and more would happen in the span of a couple of weeks? Perhaps not as low as we think! Most likely, these occurrences were due to chance, and our contrived isolation and analyzation of them was a result of not only apophenia, but also a number of logical fallacies-- namely, confirmation bias. Retrospectively, I realize that my roommate and I fell victim to confirmation bias and neglect of evidence that didn't lead to the conclusion that we were real-life Esmeraldas. For example, we never considered all the other times in our lives when we had found coins on the ground. We didn't think anything of the other changed relationship statuses on Facebook that week. I didn't point out the lack of coincidence in the other biology articles my professor posted. Et cetera.
It's interesting that while all these happenstances were taking place, I was reading about pseudosience, apophenia, pareidolia, and fallacies in my Psych textbook. COINCIDENCE?... probably.
Image from: http://www.lucknet.com/Horoscope_news/Horoscope.html