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In association with
Royal Statistical Society
Why Celebrate Huntrodds' Day?

An interview with Professor David Spiegelhalter

I study Risk, & people associate risk with all the bad things that might happen, but Chance is the other word for risk that reflects the upside, that good things happen. Obviously winning lotteries is an upside of risk, but you've got to buy a ticket - whereas coincidences, nice things that happen to you just by apparent randomness, shows that risks can be good, chance can work in a really positive way.

But also I have a theory of coincidences, that they don't happen to everybody. They never happen to me. I'm the boring one, I never have coincidences at all.

Because in order to experience coincidences, there's 2 characteristics that really define it. First of all, you actually are aware of your surroundings. And secondly, you talk to people, and I do neither. I don't notice what's going on around me, and I never speak to anybody, so I never find out anything surprising at all.

There was a lovely one someone sent to the Cambridge Coincidences Collection: a lady was in Rome on holiday & started talking to the woman opposite, and they found out they both had a son who worked in the same company, & so one of them phoned up their son & he said, "oh yes, he's sitting right opposite me at the moment, I'll pass the phone to him." That's a lovely coincidence, but it would never happen to me, because I wouldn't talk to anybody over breakfast.

I could have been sitting on the bus next to my long lost twin brother I was separated from at birth, and we'd just get up and walk away, so I'd never find out.

Coincidences happen to people with prepared ground. Some people say " so many things happen to me", & they think it's something strange, & I think - yeah, it's great, you're an observant person who talks to people.

Serendipity - spontaneous, nice things happen to those who are ready & aware. Talk to people, notice things - open your eyes.... & it's amazing what you'll find out.