The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

We noticed this plagued Kottke the other day, and we knew there was a word for it...

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is the experience of learning about a word, fact, phrase, or, perhaps, a certain phenomemon for the first time, and then encountering it again soon after.

It's named after a prominent military left-wing group in postwar West Germany, the Baader Meinhof Group also known as the Red Army Faction, and coined by a reader of the St. Paul Pioneer Press who came across the group's name a couple times in a row and thought 'my goodness, what a... phenomenon.'

Is it a déjà vu-esque parapsychological event? Evidence of selective attention? Cognitive bias consequent of the recency effect? Or, maybe, just a big coincidence?

Who knows. But next time it comes up, which it very well may in the next, say, day or two, you'll have the details.

Thanks Ash "Blackberry" Bennington

Illustration from S.R. Wells' "New Descriptive Chart," ca. 1869, via Huntington Library