On Synchronicity in Time: Part II


In a previous article, I explained how the totally unscientific topic of synchronicity can be used to produce rigorous mathematics that allows us to distinguish between a freak accident, and a deliberate signal. In short, I laid out the outlines for the mathematics that would allow you to distinguish between something that is simply unlikely, and something that is deliberately orchestrated to get your attention. In this article, I’m going to formalize this approach a bit more to show how we can use sequences of messages of this type to construct meaningful messages from a sender to an unknowing recipient. The gist is, you create an unlikely, and personal, signal, that will get an unknowing recipient’s attention, which will eventually allow you to throw targeted messages in otherwise unrelated collections of signals.

Mathematical Coincidence

Though the article is titled “On Synchronicity in Time”, what I’ve done is relabel the original concept of synchronicity as, “coincidence”, because I want to distinguish between what I’m about to introduce, which is completely scientific in nature, from the work of its source, Carl Jung, who at the time, associated what he called synchronicity with the mystical and the religious. Because I came up with the related mathematical idea of coincidence using Carl Jung’s work on synchronicity, I want to give the man a hat tip, since he was a big influence in my life, had a great mustache, and of course, I don’t want to be accused of merely tweaking a great idea, without giving credit to its original source.

The basic idea is as follows:

If I had to define coincidence, I would say it has two components: (a) a low probability, and (b) contextual relevance.

One of the examples of coincidence I gave in the original article on the topic is the following:

Imagine walking out of a store having just purchased a bright orange hat, when suddenly, someone throws an orange at you. Both events are low probability in the ordinary course, and the latter event of getting hit by an orange is relevant, because it intersects in property with the item you just purchased. And you would be completely certain the event was deliberate, even if it seemed superficially impossible for that to be the case.

This definition allows us to construct a mathematical notion of coincidence that incorporates practical human psychology, since it distinguishes between that which is unlikely, and that which is both unlikely and personal, in a manner that can be measured. The notion of coincidence I’ve outlined above formalizes the difference between something that is merely unlikely, and something that is both unlikely, and also directed at you.

One class of examples I gave in the previous article is the difference between seeing super model Amber Valletta walking through the streets of New York City, and instead seeing super model Amber Valletta wearing a t-shirt with your face on it. The former is an unlikely event, whereas the latter event is not only unlikely, but also personal, since she’s wearing a t-shirt with your face on it, suggesting the circumstances are almost certainly the product of design, and not the product of the undisturbed operations of nature.

Personally, I think this is a really powerful idea that might help us search for life, but I’m more interested in the practical applications of this definition to signal processing, which allow us to distinguish between a freak occurrence, and a deliberate message. This is really awesome stuff, because you can get really creative with this type of messaging, ultimately building coherent statements out of totally insane components. The ultimate goal of this set of articles is to get super weird, and introduce mathematics that explains how these types of messages could be transmitted through time, without disturbing causation, creating a model of physics that allows for information to be exchanged through time, but nonetheless produces a logically and temporally consistent universe.

Public Messages with Private Recipients

A tacit assumption of the definition above is that what makes a coincidence indicative of design is the impression that the sender of the message has information about the recipient, that is included in the message. Returning to the example above, simply seeing Amber Valletta walking down the street is not enough to conclude that she deliberately walked by you, since, especially in New York City, there are plenty of other people she will also pass by on her walk. In contrast, if she is wearing a t-shirt with your face on it, then you have good reason to suspect that she walked by you, deliberately, since there is information about you memorialized in her appearance. At a minimum, such an event is indicative of design by sentience, whether or not it was Amber Valletta that hatched the plot. And again, it’s not simply the extremely low probability that suggests sentience, but rather, the intersection between the low probability event, and the life of the observer. So if instead you saw Amber Valletta wearing a t-shirt with a picture of her own face on it, that would be a strange event, that certainly carries a very low probability, that is even lower than the probability of simply seeing Amber Valletta, generally. However, it would not satisfy the definition of coincidence above, because there’s nothing personal about it, and every observer to the event will have the same experience.

In contrast, if she’s wearing a shirt with your face on it, then everyone involved will agree that the event was clearly directed at you, and no one else, and you will have a unique response to the signal. This would be a public message that is publicly directed at a particular person.

Now let’s say instead of your face, her t-shirt has a picture of your cat, and it turns out that your cat has one eye, and no left feet, at all – it drags itself only in small circles, sort of like an electron in a magnetic field. As a result, photos of your cat generally make it quite clear that the subject of the photo is in fact your cat, and not someone else’s cat, given its rather unique appearance. Upon seeing Amber Valletta, you will again be justifiably astonished, but the difference is, in this case, no one around you will understand why. That is, everyone will be happy to see Amber Valletta, people will take pictures, and they’ll probably think it’s funny that she has a demented cat on her shirt. But for you, the message will be quite different, because it will be clear that it’s your cat that’s on her shirt, which means only you will understand that the event was directed only at you, though the display was done ostentatiously, in public. This will probably be borderline disturbing, since you’ll probably have no way to explain how or why it is that Amber Valletta obtained a photograph of your cat. This would be a public message that is privately directed at a particular person.

All of this is to demonstrate that coincidence can be used to take a public signal, and turn it into a private message. Continuing with the example above, if Amber Valletta wanted to tell you something, all she would have to do is say it out loud, publicly, and you would understand that whatever she said subsequent to showing up with your demented cat on her shirt was obviously directed at you.



As a practical matter, you have some set of life experiences and aspects that are peculiar to you. For example, your face is something that you almost certainly associate with your notion of self, whereas eating bagels is probably not, because everyone eats bagels, and unless you’re a true bagel aficionado, you’re probably not going to include bagels in your core sense of identity. Your birthday is another example, despite the fact that there are probably plenty of people that share your birthday, just like there are probably plenty of people that look a lot like you. Nonetheless, if you see the digits of your birthday written somewhere, you’ll think of yourself, just like if you see an image of what looks like what could be your face, you’ll again think of yourself.

As a result, knowing what signals a person associates with their identity allows you to deliver a public message that is privately directed at that person. This would be all the things that are uncommon enough in the population in question, but salient enough in the mind of the recipient to be recognized. The one-eyed, two-legged cat is the quintessential example of this, because it’s something that is certainly not common, at least in New York City, yet it’s something the recipient (i.e., the owner of said cat) would see every day.

The overall goal, therefore, when delivering a public message that is privately directed at a particular person, is to paint a low probability signal with an aspect that the recipient associates with themselves. So this involves understanding all the idiosyncratic aspects of life that an individual associates with themselves, and identifying those that are least common to their population, and therefore, most likely to get noticed by the individual in question. Ultimately, this approach allows you to deliver a message publicly, that is directed at a private, unknown person. But the message is itself public, so though you’ve hidden the recipient of this message, you’ve done nothing to hide the message itself.

So returning to the example above, if Amber Valletta appeared outside your bagel store, wearing a t-shirt with your one-eyed, two-legged cat on it, reciting Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18, after some initial shock and confusion, you would probably conclude that she is either insane, in love with you, or perhaps a mix of both. Though no one else would know who the intended recipient of her recitation is, the subject would likely be quickly recognized by others. The bottom line is, understanding self-identification in an unknowing recipient to a message allows you to deliver an unencrypted, public message that is privately directed at the recipient.

Private Encryption Through Association

In the example above, there is tacitly some element of association, but not really, because in all cases, there is an aspect of someone’s life that is directly referenced. In contrast, you could reference something indirectly, by association. Continuing with the example above, let’s say that your cat is a good sport, and for Halloween, you dress your cat up like a pirate, because it has one eye. As a result, if you saw Amber Valletta wearing a t-shirt with an image of a tiny, cat-sized Halloween costume, you would be pretty sure, but not totally convinced that her appearance was directed at you. If, however, her t-shirt had an image of both an ordinary cat, and the Halloween costume, you would be even more confident that her appearance was directed at you. If her t-shirt had an image of an ordinary cat, the word “eye”, and the Halloween costume, you would be nearly certain that her appearance was directed at you.

Subjectively, this is what would happen, but we can use set theory to model this process mechanically. Specifically, the tiny cat-costume intersects with your life, and because most people don’t dress their cats up like pirates, it would be reasonable to think the message is directed at you. The addition of the image of a cat makes it more obvious that what’s being referenced is a costume for a cat. Finally, the inclusion of the word “eye” makes it pretty clear that what’s being referenced is your one-eyed cat dressed like a pirate. As funny as this is, there’s math behind the mechanics, which can be modeled by taking the intersection over sets. That is, when you see the tiny cat-sized costume, you will think of your cat, but because the context isn’t totally certain, there will be other items conjured by its observation. Every additional item winnows down the set of associations, which can be modeled by intersection. It’s really no different than starting with the set \{A,B,C,D,E\}, and taking iterative intersections over the sets \{A,B\} and \{B,E\}, which will eventually leave you with the singleton B. This can be modeled with software, if you know what ideas your recipient associates with a given signal, which would allow you to deliver a sufficient number of signals to make it clear to your recipient that you are painting the event with their colors, and not someone else’s. This in turn allows you to encrypt the core identifying signal itself, since rather than simply present a picture of the particular one-eyed cat, you can instead reference the cat through disaggregated association, if you know how your recipient makes associations between signals and ideas.

Returning to the example above, imagine Amber Valletta shows up outside your bagel store, wearing a t-shirt with the cat-sized costume, a picture of an ordinary cat, and the word “eye”, holding a picture of your dead second cousin above her head, who died just a few months ago. Absolutely no one would understand what this bit of performance was intended to convey, but you would know quite plainly that she is saying that she’s going to kill your one-eyed cat. This is because the message on her shirt resolves to your cat, and the message of the dead relative, in this context, doesn’t mean anything other than death.

But we can tighten this up a bit, again using set theory. To make things simple, let’s assume that the intersection between the set of associations for the one-eyed cat, and the set of associations for the dead second cousin, is null. This means that, as a practical matter, there are no psychological associations between the one-eyed cat and the dead second cousin, which in turn suggests that they are independent components to the message. This is quite nice, because it means that we can formalize the distinction between the components of a message by taking the intersection of the associations of the components. In this case, as a practical matter, you’d say, well, the cat and my dear dead cousin Suzie don’t really have anything to do with each other, so I’m guessing those two signals are distinct. But because she just died, one fair inference is that what’s being referenced is her death. Once their independence has been established, it’s then fair to combine them, resulting in a message that conveys your one-eyed cat, and death.


This is awesome stuff, that I believe forms the basis of the mechanization of human understanding. But, it also shows quite plainly that someone can scare the shit out of you in public, if they know enough about you. The idea that people with the power, and the incentive, to do exactly this, won’t do this, is beyond naive. Social media companies are global corporations, run by boards and shareholders that are not beholden to any particular government, whose primary legal responsibility is to make money. Moreover, I’m not even sure what I’ve described above would be illegal, because the real meaning of the message exists only in the mind of the recipient, and you’d sound like a nut job trying to explain all of this to a jury. Combine this unfortunate reality with the fact that social media companies appear to be willingly facilitating illegal conduct in election rigging, terrorism, and human trafficking, and you have every reason to be suspicious of handing this kind of information over to people who have proven they are not trustworthy, and in my opinion, fundamentally, not good people.

I happen to be a mathematician, and a jerk, so it’s easier for me to make these points clear, but an ordinary person would simply suffer in private, and probably be exploited, because that’s how the world works.


Now that I’ve shown you how crappy people can use social media to intimidate others in plain sight without consequence, I’ll follow up with another article that outlines the mechanics for a completely different way of thinking about the nature of time, that allows for information to move through time in the same way that it moves through space, but in a manner that is completely consistent, without any of the nonsense you see in movies about time-travel and the like.


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