Patterns and Pareidolia
Updated: Jan 5, 2020
Analyze the photograph that's shown above. What do you see?
How about this photograph? Anything peculiar?
If you saw faces for both of the images, then consider yourself crazy... or should you?
Human beings are pattern-finding machines. However, some things that we sense may be completely random and have no significant meaning to them. When we run into such data, it is very common for people to quickly detect familiar features in meaningless stimuli and come across surprising discoveries. If this sounds like your life story, then welcome to the pareidolia club!
To put it simply, pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon that happens when people find meaning in random stimuli, whether they come in the form of a visual or a sound. Although they don't always have to be faces, we often recognize faces in the most random places, such as clouds, artistically-burnt pieces of toast, and the backs of cars.
Sure, they're fun to look for when you're bored, or perhaps you automatically do them all the time. But when I perceive faces in random places, I can't help myself but to think, "What is the meaning of finding meaning in meaningless things?"