Wednesday, 24 July 2013

what's the frequency kenneth?

It's interesting when phenomena, shared and recognized but impossible to relate in a straightforward way, like the sense of dรฉjร  vu, earn a name—even if there was a perfectly sufficient descriptive term before pop-psy decided to call frequency illusion the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. A linguist at Stanford University originally classified the syndrome later given an appropriately pop-culture name where one's reality seems suddenly inundated with an idea just introduced—thinking about buying a boat, for instance, summons up all sorts of unaccountable coincidences, not limited to targeted advertising beckoning at every turn, but noticing more and more boats, a documentary evening on boating, touts from a nautical-school or one's brother-in-law getting a party barge, a sale on Breton striped sailor shirts, and so on. In other words, the 
belief that things one has noticed just recently are in fact recent. Two factors comprise this feeling—one being selective attention paid to a new concept or idea and the resulting confirmation bias that reinforces its importance. That particular name was chosen by a journalist exposed to two unrelated and non-contemporary discussions about the German domestic terror group in one evening. Such an unshakeable feeling contributes to the plots of Repo Man (the plate-of-shrimp-effect), the number forty-two in The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy, Jim Carrey's character in The Number 23, as well as our own daily lives, like waking at the same time in the middle of the night. While I strongly do not believe that the universe only has indifferent coincidences on offer and it is nice to have something thematic, it is also good to distance oneself from cogitative partiality.