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Fate, destiny or God are at work
Metaphysical forces, such as fate, destiny or God, are guiding events.
It's a conspiracy
Some human organization, such as the Hanso Foundation, is manipulating events.
- Pro: The Widmore Corporation and the Hanso Foundation could be so powerful that they are essentially running the whole world. They would have the power and resources to manipulate events so that certain people were in a certain place at a certain time e.g. a group of previously unconnected people all board Oceanic 815 at the same time.
- Con:It would look bad on companies such as the Widmore Corporation if such a thing got out (worse things than this have come out in real life).
It's just coincidence
Improbable or not, coincidences happen. The creators and writers are trying to convey that the LOST universe, like the real universe, is one where wildly improbable events happen. It's part of the nature of things.
- Pro: In the Lost Connections feature on the Season 2 DVD, Carlton Cuse states that he is inspired by the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, that we are are connected to any other person in the world by no more than six people. The various character connections serve to support and highlight this theory.
- Con: All this speculating and working things out would have been for nothing. It is also unlikly that such a thing could happen, it just so happens that Hurley who owns a box company in Canada just happens to be on the same plane that one of his employees is on (Locke).
It's dramatic license
Many dramas take license with coincidence. What are the odds that Oedipus would fulfill the prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother? LOST just takes coincidence to an extreme for the purposes of entertainment.
- Oedipus is perhaps a bad example to use here, since his story is very explicitly one of fate. This doesn't negate the idea of dramatic license, however.
We're being messed with
The inclusion of wildly improbable coincidences, along with surreal events and other mysteries, is part of a design to mess with our heads.
Calculation of odds that Hurley hits the Numbers, then crashes on the Island, and lives
The odds that Hurley hits the Numbers, then crashes on the island of their source, and lives is less than one in 35 x 1018.
- Hurley hits the Numbers: From a naval listening post, Leonard Simms hears the Numbers broadcast from the Island. Hurley learns the Numbers from him, plays them and wins the lottery. The odds of choosing the winning numbers in a lottery with six double-digit numbers, if 00 is not used, are (99 * 98 * 97 * 96 * 95 * 94)/720, or one in 1,120,529,256.
- Hurley crashes. It's more likely to be involved in a fatal accident on one of the riskier airlines, so a conservative estimate should use them for a factor. Of the 25 airlines with the worst accident records, the odds of being on one of their aircraft during a fatal event is one in 386,000.
- On the Island. If you crash in the huge Pacifc Ocean, the odds of crashing on or near an island are remote. A lot of water, little land. Oahu, a big island, is 44 miles (71 km) in its greatest dimension. Sydney to Los Angeles is 7,503 miles. Assuming an island the size of Oahu is under the flight path of a SYD-LAX airliner, the odds of hitting it are 44 in 7,503, or one in 170.52. This is a conservative estimate; a more realistic one might involve dividing the area of the Pacific by the area of Oahu (one in 101,078).
- Hurley survives. Using a sample of 12 notable mid-air break-ups followed by a crash, the odds of surviving such an event are about one in 475.
- Improbable coincidence: the odds of experiencing these events in succession must be less than one in 1,120,529,256 * 386,000 * 170.52 * 475 = 35,033,170,145,217,600,000. That is, less than one in 35 x 1018, or, one in 35 quintillions (short scale). This conservative estimate doesn't include the chances of the Island being the very same island from which the Numbers emanated.
- odds of choosing winning lottery numbers
- Wikipedia article on Oahu
- Airportcitycodes.com flight mileage calculator
- Airsafe.com statistics on Asian carriers
- If the plane crashes, don't most people die? Airsafe.com FAQ