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Coincidence? What Do You Think?

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Are coincidences entirely random acts of the universe… or is there something more going on?

What do you think?

Now read this Huffington Post article about a Car Talk episode from long ago.

Did you change your mind?

Was Suzanne Clores’ act of turning on the radio while wilting away in Death Valley with a broken down ride-- at the exact time Tom and Ray were giving the advice she needed-- something more than random?

The staff here at Car Talk Plaza was so blown away by Suzanne’s story, that we had to talk with her about it. Suzanne, by the way, is now a writer examining coincidences that shape people’s lives, and the founder of The Extraordinary Project.

Here’s what she had to say:

Ignorant bliss! Last stop before heading into Death Valley. (Suzanne Clores Photo)Car Talk: Your story is remarkable. It sounds like it also created a lifelong interest in coincidences, too?

Suzanne: I’ve always been aware of the small, day-to-day coincidences, but maybe more than your average person. I find them funny and a little confusing. They feel strange and impossible and separate from how we do things. For that reason I think they scare people, but I’ve always been curious. There’s a lot of hard science about them, and other types of exceptional experiences, too, not just coincidences. I think they shape us more than we think.

Car Talk: What are the odds that you’d tune into Car Talk for our semi-annual piece of useful advice… at just the right moment?

Suzanne: I don’t know. I’d love to see that algorithm. We were out of other ideas, so luckily one of those unconscious instincts came to the surface. I know these things happen to everyone. They’re universal and cross-cultural, and different cultures have different ways of explaining them-- they’re meant to be, they’re divine intervention, they’re a sign from the universe, and so on.

When we tuned in to Car Talk, the caller happened to be asking about an overheating car. Turning on the radio at that particular time was just fortunate. Some other source of knowledge, or a deep source of wisdom prompted us to tune in and listen.

Car Talk: We just want to point out that you just associated “Deep Source of Wisdom” and “Car Talk.” That’s a first for us. You’re now studying this field. So, tell us…. What does science have to say about coincidences?

Suzanne plus dog, wasting a perfectly good hour in the desert. (Suzanne Clores Photo)Car Talk: Well, we’re just glad your heightened sense of perception didn’t lead to a full-blown hallucination of a mirage on the horizon. Though, we bet, there were vultures hoping otherwise. Anything else you’d like to add?

Suzanne: One neuroscientist studying premonitions has just done an analysis on 30 years of data from her study of premonition (accurate anticipation), and found that people can anticipate their future up to 10-20 seconds before it happens.

There’s another study in Germany of people who have extraordinary experiences but don’t attach it to anything. This study compared people seeking advice to people not actively looking for information, and found that advice-seekers have higher incidence of exceptional experiences. The implication is if you’re looking for information, your perception is more attuned.

There are also indications that when you’re traveling, your perception and sensitivity are heightened.

At the time of our Death Valley episode, we were traveling and we were actively looking for information. So, you could say we had a lot of things working for us.

Suzanne: That’s about it. But if you or any of your readers have an extraordinary experience they want to share, I’m still collecting stories at my website, the Extraordinary Project

Car Talk: Tom and Ray wanted us to point out that overheating your car while in Death Valley is not a coincidence. Under certain conditions, it’s a forgone conclusion.

Suzanne: So I’ve learned!

Car Talk: Ever been back to Death Valley?

Suzanne: Never. I’m not interested in studying the field of “tempting fate”!

My dinner just got away. Coincidence? Or is another force at work? (Flickr/Adrian Korte)
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