So You Think It’s Clairvoyance Not Coincidence
I’m never really sure how to react when someone tells me to “keep an open mind” and launches into anecdotal experiences that could best be described as coincidental. All I end up really doing is nodding and saying “Uh huh. That’s very interesting.” As a skeptic, I find myself hard pressed to be enthusiastic about anything that could possibly be attributed to a bad batch of mashed potatoes and a bit of wine from the wrong vintage. Yet, I think I’m too soft to play the hard-line even if I’m thinking it. I dislike having people yell at me even if they’re not quite right.
The problem I have with the phrase “keep an open mind” is the connotations around it–especially if it is voiced by someone who is about to launch into a story of woo-woo proportions. It’s a plea and an admonition at the same time that the skeptic part of my personality is bad–that it would automatically discount whatever they say. Everyone has the desire to be believed, that they want their own experiences validated. But that’s just it. It’s their own experiences–personal and subjective. I don’t think it’s my place to say how you perceive things is real or not real. But I don’t think it’s your place, either, to make me believe in the realness of something without any concrete proof.
Perhaps the hows of perception are better dissected by philosophers and neuroscientists. I tend to attribute things to the simplest explanations–like coincidence. Maybe people elevate these events of coincidence to more than mere coincidence because it’s human nature to attempt to attribute meaning to whatever is happening in their lives. Maybe, like those remembering unhappy events more vividly than happy ones, the events that seem to fit in a worldview seeking for meaning also seem amplified in people’s minds, up and above everything else. And the inconsequential? Well, they shrink to non-existence. But if anyone bothered to put all the events, the remembered and forgotten, altogether, everything might as well fade into statistical mundanity.
And, I suppose, that brings us to the crux. Other people might find they prefer the security blanket of meaning in the face of unhappy events in their lives. I am fine with the notion that parts of life and the universe are governed by statistical mundanity. Outside of lamenting my own boneheadedness, I’d rather not waste time trying to dissect meaning (if it even exists) when I encounter a setback. It is more practical and less depressing to forge on ahead.