Do you go to the gym? I do. And as far as I’m concerned, my earbuds are essential pieces of gym equipment. I can appreciate most genres of music, but when I’m working out, I like to go heavy – rock, metal; stuff that moves, stuff with energy. Now, if you are the same way and listen to music with your earbuds at the gym, here is a theory that I recommend testing:

Next time you’re at the gym with music literally being injected into your brain through the use of earbuds – without trying to seem like too much of a creep – take a moment and appreciate the ladies in the Zumba class. And not too long, either, just a few seconds or so, and here is what you’ll notice: it will seem as if they are dancing to the music in your head.

I know they aren’t listening to Here Comes Revenge by Metallica, or Cochise by Audioslave, but it looks like they are. If you test this, you’ll be hearing sounds that are literally in your head that are in a rhythmic pattern (music) and you’ll be seeing humans in a separate room moving in a rhythmic pattern (physical motion).

And they don’t necessarily have to sync up beat-for-beat, exact tempo-for-tempo, either. You will just naturally put two-and-two together, and if you stare long enough (don’t), you can become quite convinced that those humans are definitely dancing to the music in your head.

Test this theory by changing the song – you’ll get the same results, even if the song has a little faster or a little slower tempo. Change the genre, try some hip hop – it may become even more apparent. Try some country, too, if you like (I won’t, bleh!).

If I could recommend, try it with songs that you’re familiar with, ones that you know and love and are passionate about. You’ll see that the more familiar and appreciative you are of the particular song, the more the Zumba ladies will appear to be dancing to it.

Why do you think this is?

I think it is normal for humans to recognize patterns and assign meaning to things – even if they are unrelated items like in this example. When you are familiar with something and passionate about it, you will notice unrelated things that remind you of it.

As an example, when you’re out driving in traffic and you see some stranger driving the exact same vehicle as you with the same color and trim, you will probably automatically think higher of that person even if it’s a complete stranger. He (or she) must be cool, considering you have the exact same taste in vehicles. You may even nod or do a little wave.

The passion can be both positive and negative, too. If you are broken-hearted about a former lover, you may see her face (or his) everywhere you look. There will be scenes in movies that remind you of her (or him). Songs will have lyrics that make you think of her (or him). And when you listen to certain songs, they’ll always take you back to that special place, even if it’s only in your head.

This is all due to a phenomenon called Confirmation Bias.

If you already have preconceived notions regarding something that you are passionate about, you’ll notice times where other things just seem to line up and you may even assign some sort of meaning to it. “It’s all part of a plan,” or “it’s fate,” or even “it’s destiny” or “everything happens for a reason.”

Ladies dancing in a Zumba class may seem like a nonsensical example, but it really does showcase a practical application of confirmation bias that we can all replicate and test and observe. Another way to test it is by turning the volume off on a scene from a movie and play some music that you know has nothing to do with the movie. It will be just like the Zumba ladies seemingly dancing to the music in your head.

If I could recommend, play almost any Star Wars fight scene with some crazy Rush music – you’ll swear they wrote parts of the 2112 album to be used in intergalactic fight scenes. Then perhaps try the same thing with some Coheed and Cambria.

Some people swear that Pink Floyd orchestrated the Dark Side of the Moon album to line up with the Wizard of Oz (with the movie’s sound off, of course).

I don’t know if they did it on purpose or not, but it really seems as if they did. When you press play on the MGM lion’s third roar at the very beginning, the music doesn’t start right away. There is a lot of ambient noise on that album that seems to line up with boring parts of the movie, and then the actual songs seem to come in when there are exciting scenes, and there are even lyrics about balancing when Dorothy is walking on the fence and running away when she takes off with Toto.

Side one of the album is 23 minutes long, and when you flip it over, Money comes on and the movie switches from black and white to color. After the intro to Money and the main body of the song comes in, the munchkins start dancing. It’s actually quite amazing, but it really is quite uncanny.

I don’t know if they did it on purpose or not, but I can see how people can become quite convinced that they did. I’ve read interviews where members of Pink Floyd flat out denied it, too, stating that some people just have too much time on their hands to figure out stuff like this. In fact, reading about this is how I learned about the concept of synchronicity, which is really synonymous with the concept of confirmation bias.

Things just synced up between two unrelated things, the Dark Side of the Moon album and the Wizard of Oz movie – and people assign meaning and come to the conclusion that Pink Floyd obviously did this on purpose. This is why people sometimes re-watch the same movies over and over again and listen to the same bands and albums all the time – we find meaning in recognizing patterns in unrelated things that we’re passionate about, even if the meaning is just in our heads and due to nothing more than coincidence.

There is some sort of meaning that we assign to Pulp Fiction, or Clerks, or Full Metal Jacket, as examples for me, and we become convinced that certain bands have indeed written the soundtracks to our lives, even though we don’t personally know Quentin Tarantino or James Hetfield or David Grohl.

Religious people do this all the time. This is why they see naturally-occurring, present day things that appear to be manifestation of scriptures written thousands of years ago.

They memorize and cling to certain passages, like “love thy neighbors and do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” and discount and ignore other passages like how “eating shrimp is an abomination.”

They use scripture not only as inspiration to behave and be better people overall, but also as justification for spreading hate and discrimination, which is why it’s perfectly acceptable for religious people to vehemently oppose things like gay marriage and discriminate against other members of the population for thinking differently than them.

Scripture may inspire religious people to not murder each other, sure, but you’ll also find that a lot of religious people – most of them, based on my observations, anyway – are extremely patriotic and wholeheartedly support the troops.

So, it makes me wonder: is “Thou Shalt Not Kill” a commandment that really has an unspoken caveat of “unless it’s a human from outside of your tribe who thinks differently than you”?

I know of some religious people who are so fucking pro-life that they’ll kill you for having an abortion. You know of them, too. I mean, who bombs abortion clinics? Religious extremists.

This also begs the question: if religions all claim to be peaceful and loving and tolerant and such, why aren’t religious extremists extremely peaceful?

Some people swear that America is a Christian nation, yet if you actually read the Bible, you’ll find that the nation’s national bird, the eagle, is considered an “unclean animal.” But due to confirmation bias, people will pick out the pieces that make sense to them and then see things that are nothing more than coincidental occurrences that they swear were done on purpose according to god’s plan.

Hallelujah, it’s a prophecy that came to pass!