Tuesday, January 25, 2005

"Meaningful coincidences" seem to have played an increasing role in my life -- so much so that I spent some of my Arizona trip discussing the possible meaning of Jungian synchronicity, particularly the near-incessant recurrence of the number 23. So it wasn't exactly a surprise, when I got out of my ride's car at Phoenix's Sky Harbor airport for my flight back to Kansas City (on the 23rd), to find myself entering the terminal through Door 23.

I've wondered if synchronicity might support the theory that we inhabit a computer simulation of the sort discussed by Nick Bostrom and others. Computers routinely "compress" information into a readily accessible format; you find relatively few high-content TIF image files on the Web, for example, while heavily compressed (but speedily downloadable) JPG format images are ubiquitous.

Maybe synchronicity is the result of a comparable effort to increase efficiency. Viewed as such, acausal phenomena might offer an oblique look into the "source code" underlying visible reality. Some type of data compression could result in the subjectively meaningful coincidences reported in the popular and psychiatric literature.

Incidentally, synchronicity appears to play a heightened (or at least more readily observable) role in the aftermath of "high strangeness" paranormal events such as UFO encounters -- an overlooked aspect of the UFO experience that argues against anything as simple as extraterrestrial visitation. (John Keel's "The Mothman Prophecies" features some particularly striking examples.) It's as if there's a leakage or bleed-through that accompanies breaches of "normal" reality; witnesses are offered tantalizing glimpses of a domain immune to cause and effect -- a world more rooted in the seeming paradoxes of Einsteinian relativity than the Newtonian "laws" that typically suffice (see Colin Bennett's article below).

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