What is Pareidolia?
Most people have never heard of pareidolia. But nearly everyone has experienced it.
Anyone who has looked at the Moon and spotted two eyes, a nose and a mouth has felt the pull of pareidolia.
It’s “the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist”, according to the World English Dictionary. It’s picking a face out of a knotted tree trunk or finding zoo animals in the clouds.
Pareidolia can also be a product of people’s expectations, says neuroscientist Sophie Scott, of University College London. A bit like to Rorschach Test.
“Most people think you have to be mentally abnormal to see these types of images, so individuals reporting this phenomenon are often ridiculed,” said lead researcher Professor Kang Lee from the University of Toronto.
“But our findings suggest it’s common for people to see non-existent features because human brains are uniquely wired to recognise faces, so that even when there’s only a slight suggestion of facial features the brain automatically interprets it as a face.”
The research is in line with previous studies on the subject, and adds evidence to the theory that facial pareidolia emerged from an evolutionary need to recognize other friends – and foes – in a pinch. Doing so could have meant the difference between life and death tens of thousands of years ago, and modern humans seem to have just hung on to the skill.
Here are a few pareidolia sketches from my bathroom tiles, just for fun
Can you see the sketch I’ve drawn in the tile next to it?
If you can’t see them it’s probably my drawing skills..oh dear! 🙂
Send me some of yours…get scrutinising those bathroom tiles, clouds….
Photo by jurvetson
Photo by ** RCB **