Word of the Day: Pareidolia

Does Jesus exist?Pareidolia is perceiving meaning in something random, such as seeing a face in clouds or hearing speech in a recording played backwards.  People have imagined a sculpture on Mars or ghost voices in random noise.  And, of course, Jesus has been seen in food and ruder places.  Mary has been seen in water stains on the side of a building and in the cheese sandwich shown here.

The familiar Rorschach test is a deliberate attempt to explore these patterns.

A similar word is apophenia, making connections in random or meaningless data (pareidolia is a type of apophenia).

Some people wonder if surprises such as the image of Mary are deliberate instead of random.  But why, aside from a desire to support one’s presupposition, would you imagine a supernatural explanation when the natural explanation of pareidolia suffices?

If these images are deliberate, there’s much more reason to imagine that it was Photoshop rather than God behind it.

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5 thoughts on “Word of the Day: Pareidolia

  1. Amen, brother! Preach it! Finally something on which we can agree! These are silly examples of finding something for which you are looking.

    Still waiting for you to get on to the more serious challenges to Christianity. I am working through your “God doesn’t exist” series as time permits. Not much evidence there. Lots of supposition and finding what you expect to see and manipulating other people’s arguments to help cherry pick examples that you think make your case. Oh, wait. Is that a different form of pareidolia?, Nah. Couldn’t be THAT.

    • There’s lots more coming, but the “God doesn’t exist” series is some of the best positive arguments I have against religion (as opposed to the negative arguments rebutting popular Christian apologetics). If you find those weak, then you shouldn’t hold your breath for much better.

      My own view is that they make a strong case to show that there’s no good reason to imagine a god. If you have specific complaints, I’d like to hear them.

  2. A psychiatrist administer the Rorschach test to a young man.
    Every time the Doctor showed a new ink blot the young man conjured up some sexual fantasy to explain the picture.
    The doctor asked, “How come you see sexual images in all the pictures?”
    The young man answered, “You are the one who is showing all the dirty pictures.”

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