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Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Random events versus “coincidences”

3 April 2015


A couple of days ago, I got a message from an acquaintance at 10PM asking whether I was still interested in selling my MacBook. A few months ago I had declined her earlier request. So far this looks like another random event. However, that very morning I had indeed offered my MacBook for sale to some persons. Later that evening I saw a TV commercial around 8-9PM featuring someone who reminded me of this acquaintance. You can imagine how surprised I was receiving her inquiry 1-2 hours later about the sale of my MacBook. We typically call those situations “coincidences”.

In Dutch we have a saying: ‘toeval bestaat niet’. In English that would translate like ‘there are no coincidences’. The hidden message behind that statement is that it was meant to be/happen. Yet we have great difficulty in accepting the consequences of that hidden message.

I found an interesting question, and answer, on Yahoo! Answers: what is the difference between telepathy, precognition and clairvoyance? This led to me the University of Calgary and ESP.

Extrasensory Perception (ESP) literally means perception that cannot be accounted for by the use of the known senses. It refers to events and communications that are completely independent of the visual, auditory, or any other sensory system. The term parapsychology refers to the study of such events, known collectively as psi phenomena which is a generic term used to denote such anomalous processes or outcomes.

People concerned with extrasensory phenomena have categorised them into 4 major types: telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance and psychokinesis.

Telepathy (or “mind-reading”) refers to communication between people via the direct transfer of thoughts between minds. Clairvoyance (or “remote/future viewing”) refers to the claimed ability to acquire knowledge about an object, situation, or event by deriving information directly from the source rather than another person’s thoughts. A famous clairvoyant is Nostradamus.

Precognition refers to a form of clairvoyance or telepathy in which a person can foresee events before they happen (pre-cognitive clairvoyance) or predict another person’s future thoughts (pre-cognitive telepathy). The process of moving or causing some physical change (e.g., motion, distortion) in an object using only the “power of the mind” is known as psychokinesis or telekinesis.

Scientific concerns about ESP have centered primarily on two issues: methodological concerns in the research and the scientific problem associated with the study of a process that is negatively defined. ESP means perception without the use of the known senses or recognised sensory channels. This is a negative definition which is scientifically unprovable. You can develop consensual evidence regarding the existence of something but you can’t prove scientifically that something doesn’t exist.

Nevertheless, my “coincidence” felt like telepathy. It also feels like an unknown known (e.g., intuition). Both can not be proven. Yet we “know” (better: feel) it exists. I will even go one step further: somehow I feel that telepathy and the development of human languages are connected. It feels that most of us lost the capacity of telepathy but gained language. Food for thought!


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