The 6 Creepiest Ways Reality Imitates 'Lost'

Lost will soon be gone, but fortunately, there's something that can fill the hole it will leave in the world. Namely, the world. That's right: There's evidence all around you that reality itself is just a great big Lost flash-sideways.

Sure, you don't think you're living in a TV show. Neither does Jack Shephard. Here are six real-life plot twists that suggest, if reality isn't being written by the people behind Lost, it's at least being written by some pretty devoted fans.

#6. Benford's Law aka The Inexplicably Repeating Number

Let's start off with an easy question. Think of a number from one to 20.

It was 17, wasn't it?

For some reason, people are three times more likely to pick 17 than chance would suggest. That's not too mind-blowing, though, because people are idiots. It's no surprise that when you ask us to pick a random number, we fall back on one or two old favorites. There's probably a 17 tattooed somewhere on the inside of our stupid ape brains.

What is freaky is that nature and reality also seem to have their favorite number: one.

The phenomena was first discovered by a physicist named Simon Newcomb in 1881. Then it was rediscovered by a guy named Benford 53 years later, and it became known as "Benford's Law." Meanwhile, the principle that no matter how cool your discovery is, "somebody is going to come along decades later and take credit for it became known as "Newcomb's Law."

From town populations to the heights of the tallest buildings in the world to the number of people who vote for a given candidate: the first digit is going to be one at least 30 percent of the time despite the fact that one is only 11 percent of the numbers that could possibly show up there.

To illustrate just how weird that is, imagine you're an architect of one of the world's tallest buildings. You check with the mayor to find out just how tall you can go, check with the engineers to ensure that you can maintain structural integrity, evaluate the skyline to make sure all other architects who have built in this city know whose got the biggest wang. You are not keeping track of what the final measurement in feet will be, but when it's done, no matter what your decision is based on, the first digit in your building's height is six times as likely to start with one than nine.

If you switch to measuring that height in meters, doesn't matter. Is your building near a river? The length of the river is more likely to start with "1" than any other digit. And so on.

This is such an unshakeable rule of the universe that people use it to detect fraud. When the Iranian election results came in, they could tell they were fraudulent because the numbers of voters in each district voting for Amadenajad didn't begin with one enough.

A set of mysterious numbers keeps turning up again and again, and nobody can explain why in an entirely satisfactory way. We realize that the numbers aren't nearly as specific as the ones from the island, but we still wouldn't suggest using Benford's Law to pick lottery numbers, unless you feel like getting cursed.

#5. The Secret Tunnel Under the Pyramids

In 1945, Egyptian archeologist Abdel Moneim Abu Bakr took a break from endlessly spelling his name for people on the other end of the phone to discover something remarkable: a water-filled shaft underneath the causeway (basically the handicap access road of the gods) halfway between the Sphinx and one of the Great Pyramids.

The local guides had been using it as a swimming hole but Abu Bakr was able to explore the shaft enough to realize it was no ordinary swimming pool (though its location in the middle of the spookiest architectural complex probably tipped him off long before that) and that it led to multiple chambers below the ground. But that's as far as he was able to get before he decided to focus on exploring ancient ruins where he only had to worry about being cursed and crushed by rock, as opposed to cursed, crushed by rock and trapped in a haunted underground watery grave.

And that's where things stood until in 1999, when an Egyptian archeologist named Zahi Hawass (whose name means he who is bad at evaluating risk) decided he wasn't afraid of this triple threat of terror. Surrounded by the deafening roar of water-pumping machinery, he led a team more than 100 feet underground through a series of tunnels and chambers that could collapse at any moment. What did he find? Sarcophagi, skeletons, pottery and millennia-old writing.

Plus, he found a narrow, mud-filled tunnel leading out of the lowest level. A decade later, we still don't know what's at the end of that tunnel.

So to recap, we've got a big underground shaft filled with Egyptian symbols, and when you get to the bottom of it, you're left with more questions than when you started with. The only thing that's missing is a Scotsman on an exercise bike pushing a button every 108 minutes.

#4. A Whole Bunch of DHARMA Initiatives

When you're looking for real-world versions of the Dharma Institute, you can't stop with just one. It's kind of like eating peanuts... if peanuts were shadowy organizations with vaguely creepy goals. But here are a few of the top contenders:


Originally conceived by a bunch of Stanford University trustees during a visit to The Bohemian Grove, Stanford Research Institute was founded in 1946 with the benign mission of "the application of science and technology for knowledge, commerce, prosperity, and peace." But as the years went by, the SRI got bigger and bigger until it employed 1,700 people around the world. And in the 1970s, it started doing research on the military application of "remote viewing" (that's psychic powers to you and me).

In other words, they're a massive, worldwide research institution that claims to be working to save the world, but they've gotten involved in paranormal investigations of questionable moral status. The only thing that separates SRI from DHARMA is that DHARMA has its own brand of soap. Oh, wait a minute: SRI helped invent Tide detergent...

The Esalen Institute:

The Esalen Institute's website says they're "a non-profit institution that's been devoted to the exploration of human potential since the 1960's." And any time the phrase "human potential" and "1960s" appear in the same sentence, you know there's some drug-induced freakiness going on. Indeed, with lecturers like LSD-advocate Timothy Leary, Esalen was about as 1960ish as you could get. Nowadays, it's a little tamer, but it's still a bunch of buildings in a beautiful and remote location where for the exploration of things traditional science rejects. Oh, and one of the most famous thinkers to pass through Esalen? An early LSD advocate named "Richard Alpert." And what is the name of the mysteriously un-aging leader of the Others? Richard Alpert. I'm telling you, man, it all fits together. Here, smoke this and you'll understand...

The Aspen Institute:

It's kind of like the Esalen Institute, only instead of drug-taking long-hairs, they have talks by Hillary Clinton. So it's just a bit less hippy-dippy. Which is to say, it's like the Dharma Initiative, after the Others killed all the peaceniks and took it over.

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