Why can we find geometric shapes in the night sky? How can we know that at least two people in London have exactly the same number of hairs on their head? And why can patterns be found in just about any text — even Vanilla Ice lyrics? Is there a deeper meaning?
The answer is no, and we know that thanks to a mathematical principle called Ramsey theory. So what is Ramsey theory? Simply put, it states that given enough elements in a set or structure, some particular interesting pattern among them is guaranteed to emerge.
The mathematician T.S. Motzkin once remarked that, “while disorder is more probable in general, complete disorder is impossible.” The sheer size of the Universe guarantees that some of its random elements will fall into specific arrangements, and because we evolved to notice patterns and pick out signals among the noise, we are often tempted to find intentional meaning where there may not be any. So while we may be awed by hidden messages in everything from books, to pieces of toast, to the night sky, their real origin is usually our own minds.
From the TED-Ed Lesson The origin of countless conspiracy theories - PatrickJMT
Animation by Aaron, Sean & Mathias Studios