A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions

From Abracadabra to Zombies

reader comments: selective thinking

16 Jun 1999
Just wondering if you could point me in the right direction. For the last 10 years or more, at least twice a month, my eyes pop open and I look at the clock (digital) and it's 3:15 am.

It's happened more and more recently. I've spoken to my astrologist (and my therapist) about this occurrence. She doesn't really have an explanation. In the last two years, I've noticed it more (or became more aware of it) and when I'm driving my car in the daytime I happen to look down and my clock radio will say 3:15.

What is this and how can I find more information on this issue?

Thanks for your help,

reply: Many people experience the same thing, but with different numbers. In our family, the number is 338, which was the number of the street address of a family member. We "see" more occurrences of 338 because we pay more attention to that number than to any other number. We never remember waking up at other times, because we don't give those other times any special significance, but if we wake up at 3:38 (or close to it) we pay attention. Same with license plates, prices, numbers in articles, etc.

It's a simple matter of selective attending. The phenomenon is related to numerous errors based on confirmation bias.

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