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The Roots of Coincidence

The Roots of Coincidence
First UK edition (1972, Hutchinson)
Author Arthur Koestler
Subject Parapsychology
Published 1972
Media type Print

The Roots of Coincidence is a 1972 book by Arthur Koestler, an introduction to theories of parapsychology, including extrasensory perception and psychokinesis. Koestler postulates links between modern physics, their interaction with time and paranormal phenomena. It is influenced by Carl Jung's concept of synchronicity and the seriality of Paul Kammerer.[1]

The psychologist David Marks criticized the book for endorsing pseudoscience. Marks noted that Koestler uncritically accepted ESP experiments and ignored evidence that did not fit his hypothesis. Marks coined the term "Koestler's Fallacy" as the assumption that odd matches of random events cannot arise by chance. Marks illustrates the fact that such odd matches do regularly occur with examples from his own experience.[1] John Beloff gave the book a mixed-review, describing it as "a typical Koestlerian performance" but noted that some of his claims about psychical research were inaccurate.[2]

Appearance in popular culture

In Volume 7 of Alan Moore-David Lloyd's V for Vendetta, Inspector Finch is seen reading The Roots of Coincidence. Koestler is referenced several times in the work, and in the movie novelization by Steve Moore. Koestler's ideas would also make their way into the Dr. Manhattan issues of Moore's and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen.

The musician Sting was an avid reader of Koestler. Sting named The Police's final studio album Synchronicity as a reference to The Roots of Coincidence. Sting had named The Police's previous album, Ghost in the Machine, after another of Koestler's books.[citation needed]

"The Roots of Coincidence" is also the name of a Grammy Award-winning song by Pat Metheny Group, featured on their 1997 album Imaginary Day.[citation needed]

It also played a significant role in Episode 4 (Entangled) of Series X of Red Dwarf, to explain the cause of apparent coincidences. The Picador paperback edition is integral to furthering the plot of this episode.

Publication data


  1. ^ a b Marks, David. (2000). The Psychology of the Psychic (2nd Edition). Prometheus Books. pp. 227- 246. ISBN 1-57392-798-8
  2. ^ Beloff, John. (1972). "Koestler on the Paranormal". New Scientist. 10 February. pp. 344-245.