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A Critique of 'weird Coincidences Commonly Occur'

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A Critique of 'Weird Coincidences Commonly Occur'

Much of the existing research on Carl Jung's theory of synchronicity, or "meaningful coincidences" (1960), traditionally have been case studies. However, Coleman, Beitman, and Celebi (2009) took a more empirical approach, creating the Weird Coincidence Scale (WCS) to quantitatively measure events of synchronicity. The goals were to measure the frequency of these coincidences as specified by the WCS scale and to compare those results to self-reported levels of spirituality (Coleman et al., 2009).

Six hundred eighty-one participants who were students at the University of Missouri-Columbia were recruited as a convenience sample through an email, which listed common examples of the phenomenon then provided a URL to the survey. Furthermore, the students were encouraged to click on the link to learn more about the common coincidences that they may have experienced, thus being baited in by their curiosity. The sample was randomized into two groups in which some of the demographic information was absent, but from what info that was given, it was reported that the mean age was 28.6%, 18.1% were male while 81.9% were female, 89.8% were white, 2.8% Asian, 1.7% black, and 1.4% Hispanic, 36% Protestant Christian, 18.5% Roman Catholic, and 19.3% agnostic/atheist. The WCS scale consisted, in order, of a short story about a specific case of synchronicity to define synchronicity to the participants, items determining the frequency of the experiences, then lastly items that assessed the participants' own analysis and interpretation of the experiences. Through internet questionnaires, the participants in each group rated relevant items on a Likert scale for two separate situations (which remained the same for each group), one indicating the frequency of the occurrence of the specific coincidental experiences based on the different items and the second indicating the participants' own beliefs of the cause and impact of coincidences. Furthermore, the randomized, equally balanced groups whose Likert scale remained unchanged for the first frequency rating but differed in the second rating: one group's Likert scale varied from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree with an N/A option whereas the second group's Likert scale differed from the former by the exclusion of the option of N/A. As for the second part of the hypothesis, a comparison between the Likert measures of the participants' analysis and interpretation of the coincidence to the participants' own levels of spirituality was made, measuring the spirituality aspect (Coleman et al., 2009) with The Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality for Use in Health Research as developed by the Fetzer Institute (1999).

The results led to the distinction of six different types of coincidental experiences. The "change and direction" group, which according to the researchers, could possibly have the most practical real-world application. Those reporting high frequencies in this group noticed coincidences in contexts of work and education and were more likely to grab hold of opportunities these coincidences may have provided. For this group, the most significantly scored item was "being introduced to people who further the individual's work or education" because it implied these people had an open mind to exploring possible career opportunities based on the situations that these "change and direction" coincidences placed them in. The least significantly scored item for the group was coincidences affirming one's course of action and deciding one's path of education, which was also suggested to be associated with having faith and confidence in one's coincidences since these people would consider any relevant coincidences in making major decisions (Coleman et al., 2009). The



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