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Each week on Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke, explore different aspects of human behavior and the brain.

Probability or Serendipity? Why Coincidences Aren't All That Coincidental

Have you ever thought of a friend you haven't seen in a long time only to run into them the same day? Have you ever thought of a historical figure and had that same person be a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle?

In this edition of Two Guys on Your Head, Dr. Art Markmanand Dr. Bob Duke explain the psychology behind coincidence and why looking at the world through a more mathematical lens might help people see things differently.

Coincidences stand out to us because they are salient. We notice them, but with the amount of ideas, people places and things coming into our brains everyday, it's not uncommon to have overlapping content. It's just that we are not very good at understanding the probability of things occurring simultaneously.

As an exercise try to think of how many things pop into your head each day that don't have a corresponding "match," and you might get a different answer to your question when you ask, "Are there any coincidences in life?"

Rebecca McInroy is an award-winning show creator, host, and executive producer for KUT, KUTX, and KUT.ORG.
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