Baader-Meinhof phenomenon

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon occurs when a person, after having learned some (usually obscure) fact, word, phrase, or other item for the first time, encounters that item again, perhaps several times, shortly after having learned it.
The "Baader-Meinhof phenomenon" was coined by a reader of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Terry Mullen. The Minnesota newspaper runs a daily column called "Bulletin Board," for which readers, using pseudonyms (in this case it was 'Gigetto on
Lincoln'), submit humorous or interesting anecdotes. The term was coined when Mullen submitted a story around 1986, about how he first heard about the terrorist group known as the Baader-Meinhof Gang and then heard about it again a short while later from a different source.
Readers suddenly piled on with their own versions of the phenomenon, which quickly came to be known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Today, all similar stories are published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press Bulletin Board under the heading "Baader Meinhof Phenomenon."
Editors of the section distinguish between "Baader-Meinhof" and "Joy of Juxtaposition," as related categories. A B-M, as it's popularly named, requires that the item not be seasonal, e.g. two references to St Nicholas in December, and not be especially commonplace. Technically, a B-M occurs in a 24 hour space, although there can be some leeway on this requirement. When readers submit a possible B-M, the editors rule on its acceptability. Their ruling cannot be appealed.
There are several theories about the psychological explanation of the phenomenon, including a popular one that cites its primary cause as being the recency effect, in which the human brain has a bias that lends increased prominence to new or recently acquired information.
The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a form of synchronicity. A Jungian explanation is that the person learns the new phrase as part of a collective consciousness, which is also active in others. The concepts which float to the surface of the collective consciousness manifest themselves in different people at about the same time, leading to this effect. However, this is not considered in the mainstream scientific community.
According to social scientist Brian Townsend, this 'phenomenon' is a result of our limited perception of our surroundings. Take the concept of Schadenfreude, which is a German word for "taking joy in the misfortune of others". This concept is discussed periodically in mainstream media and other sources. If one does not know what it is, and has no intention of learning what it is, one may hear the term and easily forget about it, as it does not 'fit' into the person's conceptions of reality. They may even rationalize that they heard a different word. However, once the person understands what the concept means, they will then notice it when the concept comes up in day-to-day life, whereas before, the person made few or no memories concerning the concept, as it was outside the realm of their understanding.
This is the most conservative theory concerning the 'Phenomenon', since it does not require postulating a collective mind. However, it makes a prediction that the frequency of the new word in society should be equal before and after an individual learns the word--- in other words, that there would be no correlations between the new words that different individuals suddenly find meaningful enough to retain in their conscious mind and use. The hypothesis of collective consciousness predicts that there would be a strong correlation between the new vocabulary acquisitions of different individuals in the same collective, and this is a measurable quantity, so that this is not only a philosophical question; however, this can generally be explained through simple memetics.

Comments (13)
1. 21-05-2010 13:15
This has happened to me several occassions, simple or combined, amply or restrained. This last is the case I like most, and the most strange indeed. Sometimes a very uncommon idea occurs to my mind, and then, in the course of the day, or just within two or three hours, a detailed notice on the idea comes by virtue of casuality. For example, one day, when I was 12 yrs old I woke up and started to think about Rimsky Korsakov, and a phrase I read in a record envelope of those times, about "The five russians", but didn´t know what it meant or who they could be, if they were some guys at all. I had almost forgot the whole thing when in school, at recess, when we in South America talk about tv shows seen yesterday or about football (soccer), a companion spoke of the five russians, ¡and named them all in detail! I was astonished, dumbfounded. This has happened to me a lot in my life. In the USA they believe very much that it has a scientific explanation, and that's pretty and all, but I think the thing goes more serious.
2. 20-09-2010 09:52
Wonder how many times Baader-Meinhof phenomenon will come up in conversation this week....
3. 20-01-2011 08:59
Ok, it just happened to me, the last four days in a row!
4. 02-03-2011 03:29
Learnt about this 2 days ago in a class, so just had a Baader-Meinhof phenomenon about the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Thanks stumbleupon...
5. 27-12-2011 13:48
I noticed this phenomenon in my life before I even knew it was a phenomenon
6. 28-12-2011 19:03
With all these silly websites, such a great page keeps my inntreet hope alive.
7. 29-12-2011 07:14
GSdkHS kobiyadnbvla
8. 29-12-2011 07:15
GSdkHS kobiyadnbvla
9. 29-12-2011 07:17
GSdkHS kobiyadnbvla
10. 06-03-2012 23:03
I just can't believe this simple explanation that your brain is just biased and wants to recognize new things that you've learned. This phenomenon happens to me very regularly, but I seriously have no control over it! I was on tumblr one day and saw a post that said "drinking more water is not just good for you, but it helps with bad breathe." A couple days later I was watching an old movie on tv and in the movie a wife tells her husband, "you should drink more water because it'll take away your bad breathe." I could have been anywhere else during that day, but instead I was right there watching the movie and hearing this. I didn't just "notice it more". Also, one day I was coming home from hanging out with my friend and my old chorus teacher from high school that I hadn't seen in a couple years just happened to be the drivers ed teacher for my neighbor and was dropping him off at home. Later that night I walk into the house and my mom and sister are watching Mamma Mia on tv, my chorus teacher picked Mamma Mia for a performance that I was apart of my junior year!! I was kinda freaked out because these two stories happened during my winter break, which was only about three weeks. I have countless other stories because this tends to happen to me a lot for some reason. How crazy is that? Baader-Meinhof phenomenon can't just be what I've been reading about, and I really wish there was more research on it because I believe that it has a super deep meaning about lives. Like, these little instances are showing us that we're always in the place we need to be and there's really no way we can control it. I don't want to think about it too deeply because it honestly freaks me out a little. I wish there were other people I could talk about this to though, but like I said there isn't must research that I've found on the matter, sadly.
11. 26-09-2012 06:29
this is really crazy i didnt know they had a term for this... i just thought most of the time when i see the same thing the whole day it was trying to give me a sign... of course it gets scarier if it started out as a dream and you woke up u did the same and see the same in your dream...
12. 11-03-2013 20:45
This has been happening to me very frequently over the past server all belief is that we are all basically antennas for which my transmit and receive different signals..if we are properly tuned in to the correct signal then these coincidences seem to happen more often.
13. 26-04-2013 12:13
The song "White Rabbit" kept playing in my head for some reason on the way to work this morning. I was looking through apps on my phone and found a book app with two free books; Treasure Island and Alice in Wonderland. You can guess which one I read.

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