(Submitted by reader Brian Pope)
My name is Brian Pope I am an American and I have lived here in Vantaa, Finland for the past 5.5 years. I play football (soccer for my North American brethren) and am a goalkeeper. A few years ago I got a message from a teammate asking if I had given up on our hobby league football team and signed for a pro club in Vaasa, Finland (Vaasan Palloseura VPS).
Now I believe myself to be a decent keeper but by no means pro level. My teammate sent me a link that announced the signing of an American goalkeeper named Brian Pope to VPS. I thought this was very entertaining. Through Facebook I was able to track down this other American Goalkeeper named Brian Pope and relayed the coincidence. He enjoyed the story as well.
During this same time, my wife’s cousin, who lives in Vaasa, happened by an apartment where the name on the mail slot said “Brian Pope” and snapped a picture. She thought it was pretty amazing to have another Brian Pope in Finland. She did not know that I knew there was another person by the same name living in Vaasa so I relayed the story to her.
What are the odds that there were 2 Brian Popes living in Finland at the same time both being football goalkeepers? Granted at different levels of football. The fact that my wife’s cousin happened by that mail slot is another set of odds all together.
For reference I was born in 78 and the other Brian Pope in 85.
Below are the extended notes provided by Barbara Drescher for use in Skepticality Episode 203. Take a look and leave your comments below.
The odds of this are a little more difficult to calculate than most of the other “same name” stories that we get, mostly because the frequencies of names in Finland in past years are not easy to find. Both his first and last names are fairly common in the U.S., but I found myself impressed with the coincidences in the story and it is my own amazement, once again, that I think is interesting.
Soccer is an extremely popular sport, so even the fact that few soccer players are goalkeepers should not make this story so surprising. However, there is an aspect of this story that explains my feelings: distance and familiarity. Familiar settings provide frames of reference to anchor us. We are more confident with our estimates of everything from accident rates to salaries when the context is familiar. Finland is not a familiar place to most Americans. Numbers of Americans living in that part of the world are also not available, but who ever talks about moving to Finland? France, Italy, even Egypt are more likely. There is no Eiffel Tower, no pyramids, and no riviera. Finland does not seem exotic. It just feels foreign, and the
lack of familiar context seems to make the presence of such a common, American-sounding name feel more out of place than it probably was.