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Sunday, 30 September 2007

The Synchronicity Principle

We have some notion of a tendency of events to cluster around a moment in time in our own culture, as evidenced by folk sayings like, "Good things (or accidents) happen in threes," etc. This only exists as a superstitious kind of popular awareness. Nevertheless, it has long been evident that there is a tendency for several scientists at the same time to make the same discovery completely independently. And, in histories of science, one can observe that there is a tendency for certain ideas and inventions to crop up in different places at the same time. Or, on a more mundane level, one has been known to wonder why the most needed library book is always the one already checked out?

Although a synchronistic point of view would seem to fly in the face of "scientific method," designed to support the value of statistical truth and predict cause and effect, the principle was strongly validated by the micro-physicist, Werner Heisenberg's discovery in 1937. In the proof of his Uncertainty Principle, which still stands, Heisenberg demonstrated that, in the realm of sub-atomic particles, everything has an influence on everything else, including the perceiver's influence on what is perceived. This is another way of saying that everything that happens in a given situation at a given time is related to and participates with everything else. So, as far as we know now, there is no such thing as "scientific objectivity," statistical probabilities notwithstanding. As Jung put it:

"Every process is partially or totally interfered with by chance, so much so that under natural circumstances a course of events absolutely conforming to specific laws is almost an exception."

In his fascinating book, New Directions in the I-Ching, mathematician Larry Schoenholtz points out that there are several scientific theories that seem to validate the synchronicity theory:

"Since I have mentioned the connection of synchronicity with the better-known theories of mainstream physics, I shall mention other parallels as well. The phenomenon of radioactive decay has been particularly baffling from the causal viewpoint. The spontaneous disintegration of certain atoms through radioactive emission is an event for which modern physics cannot provide an answer"

But it is quite in keeping with a synchronistic view of things. No less a figure than the physicist Sir James Jeans says of this mystery,

"Radioactive break-up appeared to be an effect without a cause, and suggested that the ultimate laws of nature were not even causal."

If we add to the radioactivity puzzle such related puzzles as are found in the quantum theory, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, and most of the tenets cited in Einstein's general theory of relativity, an impressive case can be made for incorporating the synchronicity principle into mainstream physics.

When the unified field theory is worked out to the bone - the evidence here, too, is mounting steadily - and the entire clockworks of the cosmos can be brought under a set of unifying equations, this will be the final touch for bringing the synchronicity principle into full popularity among scientists.

The application of synchronicity is based on the strategy that looking for the meaning in coincidental events is more pragmatic than striving to predict things according to notions of causality, surmised from statistical records. Perhaps ancient oriental scientists, who lacked our record keeping technology, found it easier to realize this and devised the Book of Changes to put their observations to work. By using the magic of numerical chance within the context of an ingenious system of archetypal readings, they claimed they were able to follow the convoluted patterns of how things tend to go together. Maybe now, using a personal computer, we can take advantage of their prescience in a way that honors the best of both worlds. (

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