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The Odds Must Be Crazy (TOMBC)

by Mark Edward, Jan 02 2012

Treading Another Dark Path

In an effort to get more people pointed in the direction of skeptical thinking without scaring them away by seeming too rationally challenging, The Independent Investigation Group West members have put up a new “gateway” site that’s all about those wacky weird happenstances we call coincidence. is the brainchild of fellow IIG Steering Committee members Wendy Hughes and Jarrett Kaufman. This site grabs people where they need to be grabbed: that area in our brains that likely got many of us who are already involved in the skeptic movement to say, “…what are the odds?” way back when we didn’t know any better. When a strange occurrence happened we might not have had an answer for, where did we go? What did we think? For many of us in those larval skeptic crossover days, the friends we told about what to us was a fantastic moment probably shrugged and said, “Yeah, …that’s weird” and left it at that. This kind of tacit acceptance didn’t offer much of an alternative. The woo reasoning we may have made up in our own minds to deal with what sometimes seemed divine or cosmically charged information may not have taken us to greener pastures. Without  direction, a lot of us might have spent years navigating through endless self motivation siminars – or worse, found ourselves trapped in a woo cult.  


Now inquiring minds have a place to go to hang out, share and archive their most wild experiences. Once there, they will hopefully get the drift on other “wormholes” that will lead to the main IIG website and other like-minded places.  My own entry from a past skepticblog post “The Nine of Spades” is there and I have just posted an experience that happened on a recient weekend. We can’t always explain exactly what’s going on with such adventures, but with TOMBC we can readily show that such experiences happen to everybody at one time or another and that, in fact, if they didn’t happen, that would be the strangest reality of all. Here’s mine from last weekend, I call it:

The Bradbury Befuddlement
This last weekend was Christmas, a time when I usually sit around doing nothing but feeling blue. This time was different. My girl Susan was coming to visit and the only real plans we had were to go and see “The Artist.” That being planned, the rest of the days off were set for winging it and hanging out when and where we felt like going. On Thursday morning, I mentioned to Susan that I wanted to remember to call my friend Ray Bradbury and wish him a happy holiday. Next day on Friday, we drove into downtown L.A. to see the Weegee exhibition at MOCA. Leaving at around noon, we made our way downtown and began the process of looking for a cheap place to park. We finally randomly settled on a spot across the street from Grand Central Market on Hill Street. This classic melting pot of L.A. has always one of my favorite places to wander around and watch the bustling activity, grab a quick bite and best of all; it lies conveniently a few blocks around the corner from the more expensive MOCA district where it has been since 1917. Being a photographer by profession, Susan snaps away at anything that sparks her fertile creative mind and after partaking of a latte and croissant, we found ourselves outside on the busy east side of South Broadway. I chanced to glance across the street and remembered (for the first time in twenty or thirty years) the wonderfully bizarre interior of The Bradbury Building.

Second Floor Landing From "Demon with the Glass hand" (1964)

I had been there a few times in my past and had a connection with the place. Being a fan of the 60’s television series “The Outer Limits” and having had the privilege of a friendship with the series’ producer Joseph Stefano, I knew a bit about the strange workings of science fiction writers and how they had used the building as a location not only in the seminal black and white episode of “The Outer Limits: The Demon with the Glass Hand,” (1964) but also countless other productions including “D.O.A.” (1950), “Chinatown” (1974),“Blade Runner” (1982) and “Wolf” (1994). To many it’s known as “The Most Famous Building in Science Fiction.” It has an odd background. Some might even call it a “paranormal” one. Wiki says:


“A local architect, Sumner Hunt, was first hired to complete a design for the building, but (the originally commissioned Lewis L.)Bradbury dismissed Hunt’s plans as inadequate to the grandeur of his vision. He then hired George Wyman, one of Hunt’s draftsmen, to design the building. Wyman at first refused the offer, but then supposedly had a ghostly talk with his brother Mark Wyman (who had died six years previously), while using a planchette board (Ouija) with his wife. The ghost’s message supposedly said “Mark Wyman / take the / Bradbury building / and you will be / successful” with the word “successful” written upside down. After the episode, Wyman took the job, and is now regarded as the architect of the Bradbury Building. Wyman’s grandson, the science fiction publisher Forrest J. Ackerman, owned the original document containing the message until his death. Coincidentally, Ackerman was a close friend of science fiction author Ray Bradbury.”

Suffice it to say that this building, its history and general noir demeanor are to say the least: bizarre. I hadn’t made any conscious linking between Ray Bradbury and the Bradbury building as we crossed the street and entered the cavernous lobby. That could have been interpreted by some as a coincidence, albeit a rather weak one. No, hang on – it gets weirder. We lingered for a half hour or so and took some nice shadowy photos, particularly shooting from one stairway landing that overlooks the lobby from the second floor. We left the building enchanted with the visual charm of the beautiful wrought iron and stone work and quite invigorated by the experience.
The next day was Saturday, Christmas Eve. We decided we would go and see a matinee of “The Artist.” The film itself is a silent film and shot in black-and-white that captures the era when silent films began to morph into “talkies” (1927-1932) and how the main characters deal with the rocky transition. An excellent film made even better by what happened next.

In stunned amazement, we both sat in awe as a five minute scene un-folded in front of our eyes shot virtually on the exact spot we had been standing on the second floor landing in the Bradbury Building just 24 hours before. What are the odds? Spooky…

 Stuff happens.

Please tell your friends about The Odds Must Be Crazy, especially those fence-sitters who have a ton of these kinds of stories rattling around in their heads. Finding “kindred spirits” and discovering you are not alone in some X-Files universe is an important step in identifying what is real and what is not in the crazy mixed up world we live in. New up-dates at TOMBC include a constant flow of new stories and heavy linking into the social network world. A better comment system went in recently that allows people to tie in their social presence and communicate more effectively. The TOMBC site is hoping to roll out more guest articles from various experts across the world as they pick up steam. It’s a start at breaking that stubborn “de- bunker” tag many of us have been saddled with for far too long.


The Odds Must Be Crazy is a web site dedicated to collecting, sharing, and celebrating stories of the unlikely, inconceivable, and statistically improbable. They accept submissions from anyone and update regularly with new stories designed to revel in the absurdity of what happens in our world when enough random events occur to produce those special, rare combinations that appear to be anything but random. Check them out and submit your story for them to share.

5 Responses to “The Odds Must Be Crazy (TOMBC)”

  1. Max says:

    What are the odds that this will do more harm than good? Like, if everyone thinks they can tell who’s calling when the phone rings, that reinforces the idea that it’s not just coincidence but telepathy.

    • Jarrett Kaufman says:

      While not impossible, the main goal with the site is to present these stories as fun, interesting, and NORMAL. To represent how common they are and show that they’re not merely happening to you. Meanwhile we’ll be injecting regular guest articles on statistics, cognitive biases, and various other elements that will hopefully slowly clue people in on what’s really going on. We also welcome, and hope for, comments on the articles from people that might back up similar experiences and/or explain the principles behind that story that help explain it more rationally.

      Basically, instead of hiding from these stories, or merely blowing them off, we’re reveling in them. We’re bringing them to light, AGREEING that they’re exciting and entertaining, and then working to help people understand what’s really going on.

      The principle is similar to what we experienced at the SoCal ParaCon (which Mark previously blogged about) where we were stunned to find how receptive the people were to our approach for one simple reason: we were willing to listen, and not merely dispel their ideas out of hand as crazy. We were willing to present them with ways to test, and possibly prove, their abilities or claims and listened with rapt attention to their stories. They were only used to their friends calling them crazy, not to people willing to humor them enough to start giving them logical explanations and show them that their claims weren’t outside of the realm of science. That’s the same idea that applies here. By happily accepting the stories and displaying them with humor and fun and logic we can teach without making the audience feel like we’re making fun of them, or talking down to them. We can find their stories just as entertaining while slowly injecting explanations of what’s going on behind them.

      • Max says:

        Ok, as long as somebody is guiding people down the right path. Otherwise, when something seems more common than one would expect from chance alone, one might attribute it to paranormal forces rather than cognitive biases.

      • Dan says:

        Makes perfect sense, actually. You’re basically saying “what you think is happening, is happening, but not for the reasons you might think.” Third Side philosophy at its finest.

  2. Mark p.s.2 says:

    Telepathy is another word for the “collective unconscious” mind.
    We all want to be happy. Find two people who want the same thing, they might become friends.