Pareidolia - What The Eye Sees The Mind Shapes.
Pareidolia is a psychological blip in the brain that takes certain images and makes them into something else.
For example, we see a face in the clouds. A tree may look like a dancer. Jesus appears on a slice of toast and so on. In other words an optical illusion.
Another word that is often used for this phenomenon is Apophenia. Many people these days associate the word with simulacra.
Each one of these are very similar in meaning. Pareidolia translates as besides, alongside or instead.
Apophenia means seeing meaningful patterns in random objects.
And Simulacra, which is generally used today, actually takes its name from likeness or similarity, and is associated with copies of objects such as statues.
But for some reason the word has taken on the meaning of the other explanations above.
So now we have all the academic meanings out of the way, what exactly is it?
The actual psychological event, is to recognise people or things as quickly as possible, but the way our minds work will sometimes cause us to make mistakes in what we see. Hence the Jesus toast, or the Mary Magdalene shadow on the wall.
The Ballet Tree
Pareidolia and Mental Health Projective Tests
You may not have heard of the word before, but I am sure you have seen the psychological test that doctors and psychiatrists use to understand the state of a patients mind.
The Rorschach Inkblot Test is called a Projective Test. This encourages the subject to say what he sees in pictures that are literally just blots of ink on paper.
Of course many people have undergone these tests over the years, and because they are so well known the subject can and will cheat by telling the psychiatrist what he or she wants to hear.
EVP? or Pareidolia.
Pareidolia doesn't just happen with seeing the objects. It can also be hearing that is affected too. Many people who believe in EVP or Electronic Voice Phenomenon will claim till they are blue in the face that the voice they have recorded really is a ghost voice.
For anybody that is not familiar with this form of psychic phenomenon, EVP is a way to listen to so called ghostly voices.
Many people believe that the noises they hear are actually the souls of the departed calling for help, or just saying the persons name. But to others, they are just white noise, or background noise. There has been a couple of films about this phenomenon called, would you believe, White Noise!
Give Us Our Daily Bread!
Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonard Da Vinci wrote in his notebooks that Pareidolia was a good device for painters. He said that:
'If you look at walls that have various stains or spots you will be able to 'see' or invent a scene that resembles different landscapes such as mountains or rocks, valleys or trees. Expressions on faces will emerge, and outlandish clothes and costumes will be able to reduce into separate and conceived forms'.
Many artists went on to paint amazing pictures based on the 'Seeing not what the eye sees, but the mind perceives' technique.
Pareidolia Or Is It? Watch Out For The 'Ghost' Girl! at 1.59 Mins
The Cross Cloud
Have You Ever Seen An Example Of Pareidolia? Or Do You Believe It Really Is What It Seems?
- 90% Yes I have seen pictures in clouds etc. And believe its just an optical illusion.
- 2% No, never seen one, but just think its Pareidolia.
- 8% I don't believe in Pareidolia. I think each image we see is really religious or a sign.
- 0% I can't even see the newspaper without my glasses!
Why We See Faces In the Clouds
We are all hard wired to see faces from a very early age. And the fact is we only need to see a portion of the persons face to recognise it. Try it out for yourself.Take a quick look at your partners face, then turn away and explain exactly what they look like.
Even better, try to draw their face. If you are pretty good at drawing you will still see differences between your partners real face and what you perceive. Strange eh?
The advantages of this 'split second' reaction to a face is so that you can tell the difference between a friend and an enemy very quickly. Which goes a long way to keeping you safe.
This also explains the face in the cloud phenomenon. All you need is an 'eyebrow' or 'nose' to show up in the formation of the cloud, and you will automatically see it as a face. However if you look closely at the cloud afterwards it will just turn back into the original cloud like shape.
Virgin Mary Pareidolia
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