Melania’s Alleged Plagiarism: Concordance Does Not Fit
Digging deeper into the facts can reveal the cause of a coincidence.
In a recent post, I offered the idea of “concordance” to explain the strong similarity between the words of Melania Trump and Michelle Obama in each of their speeches at their husbands’ nomination conventions. Concordance suggests that people in similar situations and in similar roles tend to think similarly. There is evidence that twins may think concordantly and people in long term relationships may as well.
Since that post, the plagiarism-checking website Turnitin reported the “likelihood that a 16-word match is ‘just a coincidence’ is less than 1 in a trillion.” Melania Trump’s longest matched string was 23 words. A Trump employee has confessed to the plagiarism. Concordance is not the explanation here.
The readers’ comments on my post reflected the range of attitudes about this “coincidence.” One person blamed the “liberal media” for slandering Trump, while another insisted it was obviously plagiarism and should be punished. Still another didn’t care about the issue and wanted our attention drawn to more pressing concerns. One person politely inquired whether I should make the generalization about concordance and apply it to the two women, starting as I did from a study on a small set of twins.
When coincidences occur, people often use their preferred beliefs to explain them. Delving into the facts surrounding the coincidence can, however, uncover more realistic explanations.
In considering what may cause a coincidence, people usually take up one of the two favored explanations: God or random-chance.
But there are many other explanations for the wide range of coincidences, including “concordance”. This one turned out to be not applicable to the Melania-Michelle parallel, but can be considered as a possible explanation for other coincidences.
Due diligence is required. Before prematurely closing in on an explanation, we should find out as much detail as we can and start with conventional explanations. I rushed to use “concordance.” Waiting for a deeper analysis would have revealed the more conventional explanation—Melania copied Michelle.
Co-authored by Tara MacIsaac, a reporter for the Epoch Times and editor for the Beyond Science section. She explores the new frontiers of science, delving into ideas that could help uncover the mysteries of our wondrous world.