Not everything happens for a reason

The phrase “everything happens for a reason” came up in a couple contexts recently (conversation with a friend, Radiolab, etc.). It’s a good example of an obviously false statement that contains plenty of useful insight, and is interesting to think about in that context. We’ll get the pedantic out of the way first: “everything happens for a reason” is literally true in the sense that the future happens for the reason that is the past.