“Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined by neurologist Klaus Conrad and defined as the ‘unmotivated seeing of connections.'”
One evening, a good many years ago, I was exercising — just a sort of free-form dance — in the living room, with no light except what came through the open door from the kitchen. A street light gave some extra illumination. After a while, I farted. The street light went out.
The light came back on as I continued to enjoy my exercise. But once again, because I was moving around, I farted. The light went out.
At least three times that evening, the street light blinked out at the exact moment of my expulsion of gas.
Of course it was not my pooting that put out the light. It was defective, and was replaced a couple of days later. What is significant is that, on that particular evening, the malfunction of the street light coincided exactly with my farts. What is even more significant is that these coincidental events had no significance. There was no connection, no cause-and-effect.
Yet every day things like this can and do happen. And, if the observer allows an emotional attachment to attribute meaning to the events, it can result in distorted thinking that feeds on itself, building and strengthening a perceptual filter that allows everything to be interpreted as having personal meaning.
We are all the center of our own universe. Giving meaning to things that are not really connected is a natural effect of our search for personal meaning. Being conscious of this tendency may prevent a desperate need for self-importance from running wild. In other words, don’t fart out the lights.