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For the record those kinds of things happen to me to and are one of the reasons I'm deeply suspicious of free will and lean heavily towards fate and predestination. I've had stuff like that happen to me hundreds of times.

What is strange is that if I try and verbalize or share the story with other people they don't get it. It's like it was meant only for me and that whatever the lesson was, it was mine alone. Or maybe I'm just a horrible storyteller?

Neat. I'd like to share a series of interesting but rather unimportant events as something that happened to me over the past 3 days. On Sunday, I purchased a book by the atheist John Loftus and put it on my kindle to read. I have been looking at it over the past few days. Randomly today I remembered how about 10 years ago I would encounter references to the Christian apologist website CARM. I googled CARM to see if it was still around and somehow found myself reading a Wikipedia article about the "Christian countercult movement." Included in the list of figures in this movement was Norman Geisler. Then, I decide to see what's shaking over at Skeptiko. Turns out the new episode is an interview with JOHN LOFTUS. I didn't know this until I went to the site today. The discussion in the forums reminds me that Loftus has a free ebook at his website so I open it up and check out his chapter on reincarnation which mentions GEISLER. This series of coincidences reminds me that YOU talk about coincidences on here sometimes and I decide to pay your blog a visit and, voila, here you are, talking about coincidences. Is this a coincidence? Weird, right?

Michael, " It's as if what we call "the present" is actually broader and more elastic than we realize”. I agree. It seems as if mind is overlapping the momentarily(!) present, which I personally consider as essentially non-existing in spacetime. We have the past and we have the future. There is no sharp boarder between them. 'Now' is already put far away in the past when I write 'this'. A better way can be to think of the present as if matter (e.g. our bodies) are bound in something we can call the Peak, like a wave, where past and future meet. In the Peak events manifest in our (an object's or a mind's) local reality, according to the nature of physics. Your Peaks and mine are different, though bound together.

Basically, we have access only to the quantum waves from the past. It can lead us to think that it is the past that create the events we experience. That can be a misinterpretation. What would a coin be like without a front side? Precognition, synchronicity and psychokinesis, and more of that stuff, seem dependent of the future as a real accessible and modellable(!) thing, not just a theoretical construct. By observing we act. By thinking we create.

Michael, is this type of coincidence experience something you often think of? The reason I ask is because I believe it has to do with the kind of things we habitually think about. These kind of experiences happen to me a lot. It's not that I believe in them, I KNOW they happen. And for some reason this seems to make them happen even more.

That's the reason why I am suspicious of the accusation of confirmation bias. That may well be a normal psychological explanation but what if what we think about does increase the likelihood of unusual coincidences?

Here's mine. Some years ago, suddenly occurred to me the name of an old showman, famous for nothing, of the early 80's italian tv and b-movie actor. I was wondering what had happened to him when I turned on the radio and after few seconds, they told the name of this actor...

'I don't know what made me think of this...I've come to think of them as examples of "information leakage."'

Maybe they are leakage Michael but I tend to view them as book mark moments indicative one's at or near the centre of a series of interdependent design structures or mandalas as Tibetan Buddhists for instance put it which're being used to school us into becoming more and more aware of what's really going on around us.

I also find them useful for pointing out when one speaks of psychic powers such as forseeing the future or paranormal events like deja vue episodes etc these terms're at best shorthand for something much harder to define than we initially think.

For instance was your leakage a sort of presentiment or a disguised form of deja vue?

Such questions in turn alert us for instance to the possibility time mightn't be the single file one way traffic unidirectional sequence of unfolding events much if not all science depends upon to justify all its other explanations for how the world works.

Like the other posters I have to start by saying this stuff happens to me quite literally every day. I differ, perhaps, in being confident that I know precisely what the mechanism at work is (the how and why it is are a different matter of course).

It's perhaps assuming too much that my own experiences are the model for everyone else but I'll explain it as best as I can and you can judge for yourself if it fits your experiences too.

The solution lies in that line "I don't know what made me think of that" or "it just popped into my head". This isn't in fact true. If the real life event occurs sufficiently soon after the seemingly precognitive thought it's always possible for me at least to trace back my train of thought and find that nothing ever magically popped into my head. The thought/subject got there by a perfectly logical progression from a preceding thought or external event. And from that I came to a theory which, so far, has covered every waking precognitive experience/coincidence I've had of the thought-event variety.

I'll need to recount the event that made me spot what was happening. Breakfast television one morning many years ago,here in the UK. A reference is made to the former British Prime Minister Ted Heath. My mind starts wandering, by word association from Heath to the name/character Heathcliff, and then by one more tiny leap to the British pop singer Cliff Richard. (Both because of the second syllable of Heathcliff and because he had played the character in a stage musical). At this point, and deeply interested in coincidences, I pulled my thoughts back, noticed my mind had wandered and already being aware that when my thoughts go randomly on to a different topic coincidences tend to happen, I bet myself that something related to Cliff Richard would now turn up..probably if I changed TV channels. In short I consciously anticipated a "coincidence" before it had time to occur. I changed TV channels. Nothing. Half an hour later....

I left the house to buy the morning newspaper. For the fist time in memory my usual paper wasn't available, so I bought a different one. Only when I returned home did it dawn on me that the front page story of this paper - and of no other - was a gossip piece about, you guessed it, Cliff Richard.

I had pre-empted a coincidence before it came to fruition, and in so doing a mechanism became apparent to me. The "random" thoughts that "pop" into your head prior to turning up in real life are neither random nor do they pop. My mind - and I assume every one else's whether they notice it or not - leads from an external trigger (something seen, heard or read, or perhaps merely thought) via a short chain of associative links to the subject, word or event that I'm about to encounter in the near future.

What I surmise is that when any novel information comes to our attention the mind searches through its "database" for matches to previous encounters with the same information. This is how we recognise a face we've seen before. The closer in time to the current moment the more readily the connection is made, the more easily we recognise the face. The more distant in time from the present the more we struggle to find the matching information. What I surmise is that this "database" covers all of our past but extends a short distance into the immediate future. And that, on the unconscious level, the mind identifies the nearest connection in Time to the new/current thought. If the thing we hear or read etc finds its closest match in our past our mind wanders onto a past memory of the thing we're reminded of. But if the nearest match, chronologically speaking, is in the immediate or near future, the conscious mind leads our thoughts towards that future event by a chain of associations or even word play.

I hope this makes sense. I applied the thought to the next such "coincidence" and this theoretical mechanism continued to fit the bill. I saw a mannequin in a shop window which, though faceless, somehow reminded me strongly of an acquaintance I'd not seen in many many months, called John. Whatever it was about the stance or dress of this mannequin the thought of johhn was pronounced enough to make me enquire after him to a mutual friend. Later that evening I absent mindedly flicked through TV channels with the sound off, settled on local TV news...and there was the long missing John protesting against Condoleeza Rice! Here's the important thing... he had NOT just "popped into my head" from nowhere! The mannequin - a real objective external object - had lead me on to thoughts of him. And this chain of thought is always the case, even if most people don't notice in time to trace their thoughts back to their source.

Every waking precognition or coincidence of this kind can, for me, be explained by this process. And a little thought suggests it goes beyond that. What, for example, separates the people who blithely get on a plane that later crashes from those handful of individuals who cancelled at the last minute because they had an unsettling conviction something was going to happen? In my theory the difference is a simple one. The latter group merely had the good fortune to see, read or hear something that their mind was able to link by association to the upcoming crash, and so they find themselves before their flight having morbid thoughts about plane crashes....which to a superstitious or nervous few is enough to put them off. And they will tell to anyone who cares to listen that they "don't know what made me think something would happen. It just popped into my head"....

Nice comment Lawrence B. That makes a lot of sense to me.

I would only add that, IMO as someone who also has these things happen often, one's state of mind has to be conducive to a) letting the process you describe happen b) noticing that the process has happened and has produced a result.

I find when I am overly taxed by the mental concentration that my job can require, the phenomena drop off. Ditto if I go through a bout of relative depression.

Lawrence, that's an interesting theory you share with us! I don't think it explains my experiences though. My precognitions usually come in my dreams or in my emotions (when serious matter is approaching), more seldom in my awake thoughts. So in these cases it's hard to find any external things in RL triggering the perceptions. The only times I remember right now when something around me might trigger a thought chain, are the telephone calls when I think of the person just before he/she calls, but I've no idea what that trigger could be. They probably can be explained by instant telepathy, if one wish to.

"For the record those kinds of things happen to me to and are one of the reasons I'm deeply suspicious of free will and lean heavily towards fate and predestination"

Not so fast, Art. I think everyone who has these experiences will agree that they typically only extent a few days into the future and, at the furthest extreme, might go out six months. Beyond that predictions based on dreams, visions, NDEs, etc. seem to fall apart.

This makes me think that we are creating the future and that nothing is predetermined more than six months out (earth standard time).

This is, btw, also an argument I have against the time doesn't exist it's all happening at once crowd. If that were the case people could make accurate predictions years in advance. They can't seem to do that.

Rossoli, You make a good point too. There may be different classes of these events. One class may work the way Lawerence describes and another the way you describe.

Many years ago (I shutter to think about how many) I was having some experiences that were convincing me that this stuff is real. One of them went like this: It was early morning and I was lying in bed. The sun had just come up and I was awake and very relaxed and comfortable and just enjoying the feeling. The phone rang and I got up out of bed to answer it. I said "Hello" inquisitively (I didn't get a lot of phone calls and especially not at that time of the morning. The phone was mostly so my parents or my live-in girl friend's parents could us. We were college students)

There was a woman on the other end with a thick African American accent. She had a desperate tone to her voice. She asked, "William? Is William there?". I explained that she must have the wrong number. Her desperate tone also made me add, "I'm sorry". She responded that she was sorry to have bothered me and hung up.

About a second or two later as I pondered the strangeness of the wrong number call and this woman's apparent great need to talk to William I realized that I was still lying in bed, hadn't gotten up and had been, in reality, still asleep. I then immediately woke up for real.

No sooner than I really woke up, the phone rang and, yep, the exact same woman and exact same conversation happened; exact same right down to the desperate tone. The only difference was that she used the name "Bill" instead of "William".

I must emphasize that I didn't know any African Americans at that time and that they were a very small minority where I was attending college. Also, my journal that I was keeping at the time indicates no other instances of wrong number calls. This would have to have been a case of pure telepathy as Rossoli describes.

@ no one - I agree the mental state is relevant but the state that strikes me as most relevant is daydreaming or of course dreaming itself...that is when the mind is relaxed and not occupied by external events, or other matters it needs to concentrate on, leaving it free to wander off (and, come to that, for you to NOTICE your thoughts. Passing thoughts tend to vanish from memory as quickly and completely as a morning dream if nothing happens quickly enough to make you pay attention to them). When you're depressed or ill you're presumably, almost by definition, preoccupied.

An extraordinarily disproportionate number of my strange experiences, where they involve my thoughts, occur when walking the long walk back from the local post office, and therefore not actually doing anything but..well.. thinking.

@ Rossoli - Yes, I'm a regular precognitive dreamer (I actually assume we all are, so better to say recorder of the precognitive elements of my own dreams!) and for that reason specifically referred to "waking" coincidences of this type, to separate the two phenomena. However on reflection it's not obvious that they are different things after all. The trigger for the precog dream need only be the preceding image or thought in the dream itself. The very fluidity of the dream world where one scene morphs into another and one person changes identity midway through the plot without comment makes its the ideal place for this theoretical mechanism to show itself. What I mean is whatever dreams are made of, and whatever their initial trigger, once the story starts one thought/image may well trigger the chain towards the future event just as easily as a real life waking event does. And again on reflection I have anecdotal evidence for this...

A few months ago I now recall observing to a friend that I'd finally noticed at least one useful pattern in trying to unravel my precog dreams. Namely that when I struggle to identify the person in the dream because he/she turns into someone else midway through the action or the recollection, that the latter person often turns up on the next morning's television or newspaper, for example. This - it now occurs to me - is further potential evidence for my database/chain theory.

What about the more "Hollywood" premonitions seen on TV or in the accounts of some psychics...the kind involving step by step visions of future events, particularly disasters? Or those purportedly psychic dream diarists who refer to spirit guides and mysterious voices directing their attention to the upcoming event? Assuming such things actually ever happen - big assumption- one could allow for the possibility that the "spirits" or other disembodied entities most people who read this blog accept may exist might be able to use this naturally occurring phenomenon as a means of communication. But who knows.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that the telephone telepathy experience appears to be something else, but - I clearly have a lot of time on my hands! - I've a theory for that too!

So glad you asked.. :P

Again, 2 anecdotes that made me notice a mechanism. Both happened in the space of 2 or 3 days. Communicating with a mixed race person online who said "I'm Cayetano". Never having heard the name before I half jokingly observed in my written reply that I didn't know if he was telling me his name or his ethnicity "like Mulato". Then I hesitated...I was uncertain of myself using the term Mulato as I realised I've no idea if its politically incorrect or even offensive. So I scrapped that sentence completely and sent my message without it. In his reply he talked about his new posting to Brazil and, by way of nothing in particular, referred to "mulatos"!

Now so far you could make this fit my existing theory (the novel information of the name Cayetano being the trigger connecting to my upcoming experience of reading the word mulato in his next message) However an almost identical, though not quite, experience happened again the next day or two which made me realise a different mechanism was at work here......

My brother was coming over to house sit while I went off on a trip and on his way to the house texted me to say he was buying the newspaper on his way, did I need him to buy anything else for the house? I texted back asking if he could pick up a roll of kitchen paper. And some tin foil. Then - as with the mulato message - I had second thoughts. It sounded like I was sending him on a fully fledged shopping trip. So I deleted the reference to tin foil and sent the text without it. My brother duly arrived carrying the kitchen paper but asked me to confirm that that was what I'd asked "for some reason I kept thinking the text had said tin foil"!!

The two events in close succession made a mechanism obvious. Both case had involved unfulfilled intentions. I had intended to say mulato, though I didn't, and intended to ask for tin foil and abandoned it.

The theory... I surmise that our communications with other people must happen on two levels. The conscious physical level of speech, writing and body language etc...but that the information is also conveyed telepathically more or less simultaneously on the level of the collective unconscious, below the surface. The latter 99 times out of 100 goes completely unnoticed but should the spoken/written communication be aborted, delayed or go unfulfilled the "telepathic" version of the message, or some part of it, bubbles up to the surface in the conscious mind (provided it's in a conducive relaxed state presumably) of the person the communication was intended for.

If this second theory - the Law of Unfulfilled Intentions - is correct, then the apparently universal experience of telephone telepathy is easily accounted for. Why? Because a telephone call (or letter) is preceded by the INTENTION in advance to get in touch, with a delay between intent and completion. A delay long enough for that "bubbling up" to occur in an appropriately relaxed and wandering mind, but a delay brief enough for the related thoughts to be noticed and not forgotten.

This would also account for the universal experience of silently watching a tv show with a family member, one of you finally expressing a thought out loud and the other declaring "I was just thinking that!"...the intention to express the thought, being delayed, allowed it to emerge in the mind of the other person before you actually went ahead and said it.

It strikes me there could be a simple experiment to test this theory. Rupert Sheldrake has famously done many successful experiments on telephone telepathy with recipients guessing which of a selection of 4 friends is ringing, each caller's call have having been triggered at random. It seems to me a control experiment could be set up. Some callers are asked to ring their friend as soon as they are selected to do so, but others are asked to make the call after 5 or 10 minutes. Those 5 or 10 minutes are therefore filled with the intent and anticipation of making the call. If I'm right the success rate with this group would be noticeably higher than it is with the "immediate call" group.

What makes certain future events appear in the dreams and others not? From my experience it's usually not related to their importance. They seem to be random stuff selected from things that will happen the next day. Considering your theory Lawrence B, I think about if there can be a similar selection mechanism also in the dreams. With no external input the triggers should be internal. It might also be thought of the other way around: Besides processing input from the past mind one and then processes input from the future. If it subconsciously becomes aware of something in the 'present' environment with some connection to the future event it will focus the person's attention to it, if permitted by the laws of physics.

Syncronicities are fascinating. Statistics tell us that many strange coincidences can be expected, coincidences that our minds automatically try to fit into some pattern. I've often read a lot more into strange events than has been justified. But in my world there are no totally independent events in the same system (this blog e.g. :) ). An unknown 'something' seems to facilitate that certain events to occur near each other in spacetime. It can be the mind, but pronounced syncronicities, as well as other psi-type phenomenons, can also be signs of other spiritual forces being around. Or what do you think about the following story?

A sunny day, I was strolling around in a park with some open fields. Here and there trees feeding on the light. I stayed beneath a solitary pine, leaned back toward its trunk and started to enjoy the warmth and the silence. There was nobody else around, just me and the tree. My thoughts kept wandering when I got the idea to try to imagine trying to see the world from a tree's perspective. I began to focus my attention inside the tree, focused on its large body, slowly moved my attention to its upper branches, to its needles. When I did this my experience of time seemed to shift. Things happening on the ground became so short and meaningless from this my new perspective. The important things I imagined were the storms and the seasons coming and going. Life seemed to be much about swinging the branches. Years passed for my inner mind. Eventually I stopped the meditation, thanked the tree for the experience (why not?) and walked away.

Not long after this episode, when I was walking in another part of the park where some smaller pine trees were standing, I noticed at different places, three thick recently broken vital (well, had been) branches lying on the ground. They puzzled my mind. There had been no storm that could have broken them (no other signs of it) and it seemed unlikely that somebody of the very few passing by had bothered or managed to break them. And three? I'm shore the cause was quite 'natural'. I just don't know what it was.

A few weeks after my tree episode, I traveled to a place at the countryside that I regularly visited. When I arrived I noticed a big broken pine tree branch laying on the neighbour's ground. A place where an old tragedy still kept its grip. The broken branch became a sign to me, one of a few during those days that (I think) made me take the initiative to try retrieve the earthbound spirits operating in the area. Since some time I had visited Bruce Moen's (a guy I highly respect for his efforts - you should check him up Michael, if you haven't already) An experienced retriever helped me (I can tell you that this kind of imagination retrievals can really work, but I also had the opportunity to check up another case that indicated the opposite). I was impressed by the details my partner could describe about the supposedly retrieved persons she, and even I, didn't now about previously. During this period it happened that when I was walking in the small forests near where I live, that the silence was broken by a breaking pine tree branch. It was kind of random branch breaking conditions. The odd thing is that it often seemed to happen when I came walking (I didn't spend much time there) and without any noticeable wind at all. The branches weren't exactly raining from above, though. At the end of this story there was a very limited number of fresh big broken branches on the ground. I noticed most of them since I used to pass the small forests all over. I remember once when I passed a tree with a striking branch that made me think 'when will it break?'.A sharp bang (it was really instant breakage) gave me the answer five, six metres behind my back.

I wrote about the three broken branches I first noticed. Three verified retrievals were made (only two of these were consciously experienced) and the ghosts disappeared. During this period my psychic powers also increased and I had precognitive dreams with a great twister whirling around. A funny thing is that these twister dreams (those I remember) took place in the surroundings of my meditation tree.

Art said: "For the record those kinds of things [precognition] happen to me to and are one of the reasons I'm deeply suspicious of free will and lean heavily towards fate and predestination"

Actually, certain precognitive dreams support the idea that we *do* have free will. I'm referring to the well-attested variety in which someone dreams of a future accident in detail, but is able to avert it by choosing to alter their actions. The entire dream sequence is duplicated in real life, except for the part that begins when the dreamer makes a new decision.

That's certainly suggestive of the notion that we live within a reality/framework that offers a balance between predestination and improvisation. Sort of like playing jazz.

no one said: "No sooner than I really woke up, the phone rang and, yep, the exact same woman and exact same conversation happened; exact same right down to the desperate tone. The only difference was that she used the name "Bill" instead of "William"."

Wow. What a cool example, no one.

Just another note about telephone telepathy (funny expression). It's not unusual for me to call somebody that just happen to be outside my house (beyond my five senses), not expecting my call. I think I often react more on their presence than on their intentions. It's also possible that I sometimes make a call because somebody thinks of me. So the scheme for action and reaction can be mixed. They can be indistinguishable in ordinary life. I agree with you Lawrence that intention seems to be important in many psi communications and that it's possible to increase the power of the intention by focusing on it for some time. I look upon it as we amplify a 'time loop' connecting our physical mind and the future, making us modify the future a tiny little bit, whether a telepathic experiment, a PKI-task or more ordinary events in everyday life. But modeling the future is not a straightforward task. We usually can't predict the outcome of our efforts.

Here's an article containing extracts from a new book on amazing coincidences:

Robert Knights, taken from your link: ”Police in Bari, Italy, were able to apprehend a thief who had grabbed a woman's handbag as he sped past on his motorbike after she gave them an exceptionally detailed description of him. It turned out she was his mother. ” That was a real mis(s)take :)

The soulmates story made me think about mine. Lets call him YA ('You Again?!'). We first saw each other at the same odd sports club we had joined. Perhaps we changed a word or two. After a while I drifted away from the club and moved to a small apartment in the big city. A few years later I met YA at the front door. He had moved to the same address. We met a few times during the following years and said hello. That was all. I began studying at university and entered a special course. At the first day it turned out that we only were a handful of students meeting up. One of them was YA. He had received the same educational background as me, previously unknown to both of us. After that course it happened some further coincidences but we ultimately lost contact with each other.

We did find out that as children we both had shared the same very odd hobby (had nothing at all to do with the sport where we first met). We had almost the same names, but they were reversed (surname became first name and vice verse). We shared many characteristics. But, we never became particularly fond of each other. On the other hand, we were like the opposite poles of a magnet. Could never really meet.

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