Tag Archive: UCLA

Monkey’s Uncle

(Submitted by Skepticality listener Brian Hart)

I’m taking college level courses at UCLA to complete my education. I was sitting, an hour before class, and reading in our Anthropology book, a chapter about primates. I had no idea there were so many species around the globe. Anyway, one of the Old World species I had never heard of before, the Vervet Monkey, native to Africa, was mentioned in the book along with it’s picture. The chapter I was reading was about sexual reproduction, populations, groups, etc.

I closed the book and headed on to my Anthropology class and put George Hrab’s skeptical show, The Geologic Podcast, episode #383. In the amusing segment called, Interesting Fauna, Geo started talking about a species of primate and it’s mating habits. Can you guess which species? Yep, the Vervet Monkey.

I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle (or, I share about 96% of my DNA with my Monkey Uncle)!

Below are the extended notes provided by cognitive psychologist and statistician Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 254.  Take a look and leave your comments below. Also, please be sure to listen to the podcast for our own hilarious commentary. Also, visit Barbara’s blog ICBS Everywhere, and Insight at Skeptics Society.

It’s a cute story, but there is absolutely no way to calculate the odds of this happening. It’s highly likely that the author would read about vervet monkeys in an anthropology book, but the likelihood of the topic being discussed on a podcast is a pretty difficult thing to quantify. George is not an anthropologist, zoologist, or any other profession that would be expected to talk about primates. He is a musician by trade and his podcast is about science and skepticism. There are many potential topics for his show and while monkeys certainly aren’t a strange thing to discuss, it’s not exactly a commonly-discussed topic, either.

I think we just have to tip our hat to nature for this one and accept that this is one of those funny, unlikely coincidences that we just can’t quantify.

That and thank the coincidence gods or the opportunity for endless puns about monkeys.


Coincidence, Italian Style

(Submitted by reader Steve Gray)

A woman friend and I were visiting Naples, Italy. She was on the faculty at UCLA and I live in Santa Monica. She wanted to visit the Naples La Scala Opera house and hear an opera. I wasn’t really interested so we agreed to attend only the first act. We left at intermission and began our walk down the street.

Suddenly a female voice yelled, “Sylvia!” It was someone she knew from UCLA. (Remember, this is halfway around the world and the meeting was completely coincidental.)

The woman who called out was with her husband and they were walking toward the opera house. They were hoping to catch the second act of the opera. (Why they were going to only the second act, I don’t know.) We gave them our ticket stubs and went on our way, with everyone’s plans lining up as hoped.

[EDITOR: I sometimes like to do the above-mentioned trick with movies. Maybe that’s the reason I’m the only person I know who thought Mulholland Drive made perfect sense.]