Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On being a twin

For those of you who don't know me personally, I am a non-identical twin, the younger to my fraternal brother. In terms of incidence, twin-hood is pretty rare, as only 1-2% of the population are twins. Because of this relative rarity, non-twins are always excited to interrogate twins. For example, my personal favorite question, What does it feel like to be a twin? Sigh. Since the totality of my existence is wrapped up in being a twin, I cannot fathom what it is like to not be a twin. There is also the good ol', Do you feel each other's pain? No, I do not feel my twin brother's pain and never have. And then there's, Do you finish each other's sentences? Yes, I can finish my twin's sentences. But, I have found that with people I know intimately (other family members and close friends), I can complete their sentences also. It is about knowing and understanding how the person thinks and interacts - knowing the social, relational, and cognitive patterns of the person in which you are close; it is not some special bond or connection. The last two questions, of course, are trying to get at the possible existence of an underlying psychic connection between twins. I do not have it and most twins don't.

With all of this in mind, I kinda cringe when I read articles perpetuating untrue twin stereotypes, like this TimesOnline article on twins and their sixth sense. After a long article detailing intriguing examples of a psychic connections between twins, the article provides theories of this connection (i.e., social and genetic). The article, however, concludes with, in my mind, a more plausible possibility:
For Professor Chris French, head of the anomalistic psychology research unit at Goldsmiths, University of London, the explanation is more prosaic.

“People will always have concerns about those they love - so it's bound to happen that at some point they will have these feelings and they'll turn out to be true. But most of the time it doesn't,” he says.

“These anecdotes are pretty common between mothers and daughters and ebtween [sic] twins, and if we have a physical pain we are likely to follow it up. The problem is, we have no data about people ringing up where it's not the case - so we don't know how much of it is an intriguing coincidence, but one that proves nothing.”

While I don't rule out, by any means, the possibility of a sixth sense between twins, I want to underscore that it is a rarity within a rarity. Hope that clears things up.

Commence with the interrogation of a twin.


Darren Staley said...

For some reason this post does not interest me so much as the Coors Light commercial..."and TWINS!"

Drew said...

Well played.

Katie said...

Drew, how does your twin (Mike, yes?) feel about you gossiping about him in cyberspace?

Or does he already know, through your secret and dark Twin Magic?

VG said...

My personal favorite, asked of the mother of boy/girl twins is this: "Yes, but other than that are they identical?"