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  • Writer's pictureBernard Beitman, MD

Donald Trump Trumping Ted Cruz and Serial Coincidences

Our inner GPS can get us to where we need to be without conscious planning.


Key Points

  • Serial coincidences do not rely on a mental event correlating with an environmental event. Each incident is observable by an outside observer.

  • The massive attention paid to politicians enable viewers to notice remarkable coincidences that do not involve the viewers personally.

  • As Cruz was telling his followers a nominee had been selected, Trump's plane flew by.

  • Internal GPS seems to be an inherent, untapped human ability deserving further study.

Source: 2016 Republican Clown Car Parade - Trump Extra Special Edition--DonkeyHotey on Wikimedia Commons

Historical coincidences draw our attention because they can be in full view of large numbers of people. Both incidents of coincidence are evident to any observer making this coincidence form an example of seriality. Synchronicity and serendipity usually involve a parallel between a mental event and an environmental event. (Beitman, 2022).

A remarkable historical serial coincidence brought the word “coincidence” into common usage. The word coincidence became a household word in American English following the simultaneous deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826. The pair died exactly 50 years after each had signed the United States Declaration of Independence. (Shepherd, 1880)

Trump Trumps Cruz

In Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, Ted Cruz was charging up his 1200 volunteers as if he were still campaigning to be the Republican nominee for president. That evening, he was to give his prime-time speech at the Republican National Convention, he was boasting about how close they had come to secure the nomination, never once mentioning the winner Donald Trump. Just as he was saying, “Our party now has a nominee,” Trump’s plane flew overhead to land at a nearby airport. (Watch the video here.) “That was pretty well orchestrated,” Cruz said, laughing, as supporters loudly booed. “Jeff, did you email them to fly the plane right when I said that?” he asked his former campaign manager, Jeff Roe, according to an NPR report.

The timing was superb. That night everyone expected Cruz to endorse Trump. He did not. Trump was mad. Just a coincidence? Maybe.

Trevor Noah, the host of the Daily Show, joked that Trump had arranged it. Did Noah jest in truth? Perhaps in anticipation of his lack of endorsement that night, Trump had used his airplane to upstage Cruz without consciously intending to do that.

Human GPS

There are many stories of people showing up at the right time at the right place without knowing how they did it. Our research suggests that being in the right place at the right time is one of the most common meaningful coincidences (Coleman, Beitman, and Celebi, 2009). I propose that we each have a human GPS capacity that gets us where we need to be in ways we have yet to understand.

The theory is based partly on the GPS capacity of the brain. Place cells in the hippocampus and grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, which is near the hippocampus, help experimental rats know where they are in space and how to navigate within that space. Humans probably have the same capacity. Psychologist Rex Stanford (1976) has provided laboratory research to substantiate this innate human capacity. This Trump-Cruz seriality dramatically illustrates what is common to all of us.



  • Beitman, B (2022). Meaningful Coincidences: How and Why Synchronicity and Serendipity Happen. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

  • Shepherd, H. E. “The History of Coincide and Coincidence.” American Journal of Philology, no. 3 (1880): 271–80.


Photo by Shane on Unsplash

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