Tag Archives: Words

Weird Coincidences

Our library page, Jada, told me she learned the word “calumny” this week because she is reading “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. (I had to look it up.) It means a false or slanderous statement. Then she picked up “Hamlet” for some light reading and came across this, “Be thou chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shall not escape calumny.” All of the sudden she felt really smart because she already knew this word. 

Baader-Meinhof phenomenon (sometimes called frequency illusion) is what happens when you learn something and then see it again right away, like what happened to Jada. She may have seen the word “calumny” before but she didn’t take the time to look it up so it seemed new when she learned the definition. Then she saw it again shortly afterwards.

How often do we fail to notice something until it is pointed out to us? Once we learn something, we often see it again. I have experienced frequency illusion in some of my reading lately- either that or some weird coincidences.

Earlier this year I read two books back to back with a main character named Rafe (well, one was Rafer). One book was historical fiction and the other was by Janet Evanovich. I don’t know that I have ever read a book about someone named Rafe before. It’s possible, but it didn’t click until I read two in a row.

Shortly after that I read two books that both had recipes for sauerkraut and corned beef and discussed Tabasco sauce. Neither one was a cookbook. One was a book about the food immigrants ate, and the other was about salt.

The weirdest book coincidence I can think of happened last month. My minister preached on Luke 14:26. Later that day I picked up a horror novel where one of the characters quoted the same Bible verse. I know I have heard Luke 14:26 in church before. I might have read a book that mentioned the verse, but the two together on the same day seemed like a very weird coincidence.

I wonder if this is the same thing that happens when you talk about buying something and then see an advertisement for it on your phone. Do our phones listen to us, or is it Baader-Meinhof? Is our technology listening to us or is it simply a weird coincidence? I don’t know how technology works, but I do know technology doesn’t have anything to do with which books I am reading. 

Have you encountered any weird reading coincidences? I would be interested to hear about them if you have. Yesterday I finished a book about a bunny who was a vampire. Tune in next week to see if my current book, “Ray and Joan: The man who made the McDonald’s fortune and the woman who gave it all away” also contains a vampire bunny.