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Monday, March 19, 2012

Synchronicity and Half of Darwin's Head

Synchronicity is a fascinating subject. Firstly, we can dismiss it as pure coincidence, as mere projections from minds that are, by their nature, pattern recognisers. This is the standard way of looking at all coincidences, from the perspective of modern science. The second way to look at synchronicity is to assume that the coincidences emerge from an intelligent cosmos, or intelligent agents of the cosmos. In this sense synchronicity implies that the universe is playful, and has an inbuilt directionality. It suggests that there is an intelligence(s) which "wants" us to move in a certain direction.

Two weeks ago I gave a talk at the Hong Kong TEDx gathering at the HK Polytechnic University. My talk was called "Cosmos, Psyche and Our Brilliant Futures". In my allotted eighteen minutes I made an argument for an intelligent cosmos, and predicted that soon the mechanistic paradigm that still dominates much of modern science will be replaced by the metaphor of an organic universe. Machines are unconscious, while organisms have intelligence and intention. 

Part of my talk was about synchronicity and how it indicates just such an organic universe - where consciousness is a central component, not just an accidental bi-product. Fascinatingly, there was an intriguing synchronicity which occurred in regard to my talk. The Polytechnic Uni offered me the services of a student assistant, and her job was to make my slides as attractive and readable as possible. Part of my presentation was looking at the way that modern education and learning destroy certain natural abilities, and I used Charles Darwin as an example. Here's the slide I put up for this particular part of the speech.

To go with this slide, the preceding slide was an image of Darwin. Below is my original slide, which I gave to my assistant.

However, when my assistant returned my PP file to me with the adjusted slides, my Darwin slide looked like the one below.

Darwin really had lost half his head! Later I was speaking to my assistant, and I said it was a clever idea. However she then confesed that it was all a mistake, and she hadn't realised the slide had come out this way! I ended up leaving the slide exactly this way for my presentation, and using it as a great example of synchronicity.

The video of the talk should be posted here in a couple of weeks.

By the way, if you are interested in the subject of synchronicity, you will love Rob and Trish Macgregor's  synchrosecrets blog.



  1. Good one, Marcus, and thanks for the mention. One good synchro deserves another.

    Earlier, I was looking for our copy of your book so I could peruse it in preparation to preparing some questions to ask you for an interview, as we'd discussed. I couldn't find the book and neither could Trish, so I downloaded a copy of the Inner Traditions edition.

    I read the foreword and was fascinated by Ervin Laszlo's mention of David Loye's book, "Darwin's Lost Theory of Love." I even Googled the title and read about it. So then you sent an e-mail suggesting we look at your new blog post. So, as you can imagine, I was surprised not only to see it related to Darwin, but also that it was about something he lost.

  2. You know, I would love to see a book, Marcus, in which you do a roundup of peering into the psyches of the movers and shakers!
    - Trish

  3. That's a great idea, Trish. The first chapter will be about you. I hope that's OK ;-)

    Seriously though, I will think about it. The big downside would be that people might use the info to pass judgment on others. That, and the fact that what little academic credibility I have left would be instantly annihilated!

  4. A well presented synchronicity Marcos. However for another "naturalistic" interpretation of these fascinating and challenging events you might look at my book: DEMYSTIFYING MEANINGFUL COINCIDENCES (SYNCHRONICITIES): The Evolving Self, The Personal Unconscious, and The Creative Process. My conclusion is that synchronicities are byproducts of ones own idiosyncratic creative process - and are answers to seemingly unsolvable problems.

  5. Gibbs presents a non-spiritual view of synchronicity very well. It's a step above the mainstream science (reductionist) view of coincidence as random and human nature as possessing a fallible tendency to seek meaning to events where there is no meaning. Rob

  6. gibbs A Williams PhD. There's no doubt that at least some of what is termed synchronicity falls into that category. However I am not sure it helps explain many cases. the one I wrote about here is not one of the more remarkable one, I admit.