Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, also known as frequency illusion.

The term comes from a 1994 submission to a local newspaper in which the author comments on the “spooky” phenomenon of seeing a word, phrase, or idea again after first exposure to it within 24 hours. The name comes from a German terrorist group whose name had been noticed in one instance of the effect.rT1 This is the result of two cognitive processes interacting: Selection attention shapes what we do/do not notice, and confirmation bias which causes us to be on-alert for things deemed noteworthy.rZ1 Sensitization is an intelligence practice that takes advantage of this phenomenon.

  1. Arnold M. Zwicky, “Why Are We so Illuded?,” September 2006, (See notes.)

  2. “Sunday Bulletin Board: I Have Dubbed It The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon,” Twin Cities (blog), October 16, 1994, (See notes.)