And now, for a lit­tle bit of unsched­uled programming.

As is obvi­ous, today’s date is Novem­ber 11th, 2011 — styled as 11/11/11 in short­hand, or 11–11-11, or 11.11.11. This will be the only point in our life­times when the date, in short­hand, will have con­sist­ed of mere­ly a sin­gle dig­it that can be read back­wards or for­wards. Con­se­quent­ly, many peo­ple are find­ing it wor­thy of com­mem­o­ra­tion. Live­Science has an inter­est­ing arti­cle about this which I rec­om­mend, if you’re look­ing for some light read­ing today:

[T]he 11:11 phe­nom­e­non is wide­ly report­ed in real life, with entire online dis­cus­sion forums ded­i­cat­ed to fig­ur­ing out what the num­ber means. Peo­ple say they feel haunt­ed by 11s, which appear to them eeri­ly often. To them, the impend­ing date is bound to seem ominous.

On the flip side, some mod­ern-day numerol­o­gists have deemed 11/11/11 aus­pi­cious, and accord­ing to local news sources around the coun­try, an unusu­al num­ber of cou­ples have planned to mar­ry on the day. The num­ber 11 is also a favorite of gam­blers — par­tic­u­lar­ly black­jack and Keno play­ers. So, amid all these alter­na­tive per­spec­tives, what’s the real deal about repeat­ing 11s? Is there any­thing spe­cial about the num­bers lin­ing up?

No. With regards to the 11:11 phe­nom­e­non, rather than being a super­nat­ur­al warn­ing sign, psy­chol­o­gists say it is a clas­sic case of “apophe­nia,” or the human ten­den­cy to find mean­ing or pat­terns in ran­dom­ly occur­ring data. This con­di­tion feeds on itself, because the more con­scious you are of some­thing — such as repeat­ing 11s — the more often you’ll notice it in the world around you, and thus the more cer­tain you’ll become that the pat­tern is real.

This obser­va­tion is cer­tain­ly true. I did­n’t think at all about today’s date (except for today being Vet­er­ans Day) until it was point­ed out to me at it was 11/11/11.

And of course, in our time­zone (as in oth­ers) there’s a point dur­ing the day when the time will also be one dig­it: 11:11::11/11/11. That’s the time now. If we go by a twelve-hour clock instead of a twen­ty-hour hour one, there will be anoth­er 11:11/11/11/11 lat­er today. But on the twen­ty four hour clock, the time and date will only be a sin­gle dig­it for six­ty seconds.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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