Somewhere in the world there is a person who is our carbon copy. Put simply: we all have a twin.
Everything started in 2015 when Niamh, an Irish girl, was contacted by a TV programme to participate in a bizarre competition: to find her unknown twin.
After two weeks’ searching Niamh found Karen, from Dublin and shortly after Luisa from Genoa and Irene from Sligo. Even though they all look alike, the four girls are not related in any way.
It was not only Niamh who took part in the TV programme though, and soon other participants found their respective doubles.
Although the myth of uniqueness is fascinating, we are forced to capitulate: the abundance of lookalikes confirms that we are not the only one, at least aesthetically. There is a copy of every one of us, some more precise than others.
However, recognising our own twin is not as easy as it might seem. There are people who are affected by “face blindness” (prosopagnosia) that allows them to answer questions about the subject of a photo, for example, the colour of their eyes, the emotions that they express, but are incapable of recognising them in the flesh: whether it is a star, a friend or even themself.
Then, there are those with an incredible memory for faces, whose capability for remembering faces is so great that it can create a social problem: they are capable of remembering anyone, even a person who they came across on the underground many years earlier.
Most of us lie in the middle of these two extremes: we recognise many people, but not all.
Can we make an axiom law at this point? Science asks itself, can we say that everyone has an identical twin?
It depends… And here is where we have a dilemma or maybe I should say a paradox. If two people are identical, no-one will ever be able to distinguish them, not even people with an incredible memory for faces. However, considering that this definition is so rigid as to even exclude identical twins (usually distinguishable by family and friends) it is improbable.
We could, therefore, say that two people are identical, if no unfamiliar observer is capable of distinguishing them. Doing so the idea of a lookalike is plausible and statistically significant.
If we make a quick calculation, until now about 100 billion human beings have lived on the earth. This means that there are scores, hundreds maybe thousands of people who would seem even more familiar to us, if only we met them. It is, therefore possible that there is, or has been in some time or place, a person who looks so like us that no-one would be able to distinguish us: our unknown identical twin.
Feeling unique, different from anyone else is vital. Distinguishing ourselves from all the others satisfies the ancestral need to feel necessary. If we were the same as the others, what need would there be to live? What sense would our existence have?
Luckily, finding ourselves aesthetically the same as many others does not hamper the uniqueness of thought and of ideas. The freedom to exist, does not respond to the law of genetics. For now, at least…