Letter: Expecting the unexpected

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The Independent Online
From Mr Stephen Lowe- Watson

Sir: In order to calculate the true probability of a coincidence, you must first enumerate the total set of all possible events that you would consider coincidental were they to occur. For example, you must list everybody that you have ever met and then, for each person in turn, list all the unlikely circumstances in which you might conceivably happen to bump into them in the future.

Since the set of all possible coincidences is nearly infinite, you should not be surprised if, from time to time, they happen - however unlikely it may seem after the event.

How many people has Bob Musker (letter, 31 August) met on his previous holidays, and how often does he park his car next to another?

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Lowe-Watson


31 August