The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

same carsI like when I find out there is a name for something that I noticed in the world that I thought was peculiar. You know how after you buy a car and then you see that make and model of car again and again on the road all around you? Well, that experience has a name: the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It also has been called frequency illusion.

Scientists have found that the reason for this is that our brains like patterns. Our brains are constantly searching for things that are alike, a characteristic which is helpful for memory, but it does cause the brain to highlight things that may not be that important. Since the brain is bombarded with an abundance of words, names, and ideas every day, it is only natural that we might run into the same information twice or more within a short time. But when repetition like this happens, the brain elevates the information because the repeated instances make up the beginnings of a sequence. It is then that something called the recency effect kicks in, which is a cognitive bias that inflates the importance of recent stimuli or observations. This increases the chances of being more aware of the subject when we encounter it again in the near future.

I find this fascinating from a Christian perspective. While we may be able to chalk up these coincidences and patterns up to brain function, I have no doubt in my mind that often the Holy Spirit has something to do with it. How many times have we noticed someone or something on our drive to work or our walk at lunch that we had not paid attention to before … and then we noticed that person of thing again? We as Christians must consider that it is the Holy Spirit hard at work pointing us in the direction of something we need take seriously or act upon.

Keep your eyes open for patterns that the Holy Spirit is sending you to nudge you in your acts of faith.


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