Candace: Synchronicity, of course, is the term that Carl Jung coined to describe meaningful coincidences, but Deepak Chopra developed this idea further. I hate to push Deepak, but he is great. He’s got a new book called Syncho-Destiny, where you not only observe about synchronicity, but you harness synchronicity in your life to actually make decisions. One of the things that I noticed when I began meditating around fifteen years ago (and it was a double-blind experiment, because nobody told me this would happen) was that I was having more and more synchronicity experiences. And Deepak, or some other people, said, oh yeah that’s typical of what happens when you meditate. Of course I asked why, and nobody knew why exactly. But yes that’s happening to me more and more–to the point that it actually guides what I do.
David: That’s interesting Candace. In my own life, and with quite a few other people that I’ve spoken with, the number of uncanny synchronicities also seems to dramatically escalate in the weeks that follow a psychedelic experience. What’s an example of how synchronicity has helped to guide your research?
Candace: Here’s an example. My husband Michael and I were at the Society for Neuroscience meeting last November, and it was just weird. Every time I turned around, up would pop the members of this very interesting lab, the Wenk Lab, who have the leading edge animal model for Alzheimer’s Disease–as an neuroinflammatory disease, as opposed to other approaches to the disease, where, I think, there’s an overemphasis on plaques and tangles, which may be some kind of epiphenomenon and not the actual source of the disease. But there was literally twenty thousand people at this meeting, and every time I would turn around there would be someone from this lab. (laughter).
It’s really weird. Finally, at the end of the conference, we had breakfast at that famous place in New Orleans, Cafe de Monde, with Susanna Rosi, and we plotted out a series of experiments. And they’re just turning into the most exciting things–where the drug that we had originally invented for AIDS turns out be incredibly efficacious in this animal model for Alzheimer’s. So that’s an example. I mean, it was like, yeah, let’s work with her. We keep bumping into her, so there’s got to be a reason.
David: What sort of model do you use to explain the synchronicities that you’ve experienced?
Candace: In two words, my model for explaining synchronicities in my life is “God’s work”. It’s proof of God, whatever God is. It’s just kind of like all of the laws of the universe–the ones we understand, and the ones that we don’t understand. It’s action at a distance. It’s timelessness. It’s the final psychological manifestation of the laws of quantum physics. That’s what’s synchronicities are about.
David: In your your book you mention experiences with both “synchronicity” and “serendipity”. How do you define the difference between these experiences?
Candace: It’s funny, and it’s interesting, now I hardly ever use the word serendipity. I think serendipity has an element of chance, and that it’s not purposeful. Since I now think there are no accidents, I think that’s probably why I don’t use the word serendipity any more.
David: Can you talk a little about women in science. Why is the system so stacked against them, and what do you think needs to be done to correct the situation?
Candace: That’s a big question. I just went to a very nice event. There was a wonderful opening at the National Library of Medicine of a fabulous exhibit on the history of women in medicine. It was put together by a group called the Advancement of Metropolitan Area Women in Medicine and Science, or something horrible like that. (We’re trying to find a new name.) But they had lots of good data and statistics.