We’ve all done it. Looked at images and seen what appears to be a face.
I didn’t know until recently that there was a name for that phenomenon…. although the fact that it is a phenomenon should have told me as much! Via Milner’s Blog
Pareidolia (pron.:/pærɨˈdoʊliə/parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon or the Moon rabbit, and hearing hidden messages on records when played in reverse.
The word comes from the Greek words para (παρά, “beside, alongside, instead”) in this context meaning something faulty, wrong, instead of; and the noun eidōlon (εἴδωλον “image, form, shape”) the diminutive of eidos. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, seeing patterns in random data.
Carl Sagan hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces. The evolutionary advantages of being able to discern friend from foe with split-second accuracy are numerous; prehistoric (and even modern) men and women who accidentally identify an enemy as a friend could face deadly consequences for this mistake. This is only one among many evolutionary pressures responsible for the development of the facial recognition capability of modern humans.
Read more here… Wikipedia
The Man in the Moon has to be the earliest one that we remember, having it pointed out initially by parents…. without an explanation in many cases.
I remember as a youngster seeing faces in the condensation on windows at night, sometimes quite scary.
Even now I can sit and stare at clouds and often see faces or shapes.
The fascinating thing is that we don’t necessarily make out the same images. Looking at various photos of moon pareidolia , a lot of the shapes weren’t that obvious to me.
Hence I suppose why the Rorschach Ink-blot Test is/was used as an insight into people’s minds. The validity of the said test is always a topic of contentious debate.
Some examples of pareidolia:
- Pareidolia: Seeing Faces in Unusual Places (livescience.com)
- Other Mysteries – Re: Hand of God photographed in space (disclose.tv)
- I Suffer from Pareidolia (chris.pirillo.com)