Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Are You Seeing Things Or Is It Pareidolia?

This paper towel dispenser looks happy, doesn't it?

And this building looks as if it's smiling.

And hold the phone - is that Mother Teresa in the cinnamon bun?

This neurological/psychological phenomenon by which the brain interprets vague images as specific ones is called Pareidolia

Cool, huh?


Reiki 4 Life said...

I guess it's like lying in the grass on a warm sunny day and looking for 'things' in the clouds. I Love that.

this is a lovely place you've created dr. deb.

Sarebear said...

I found a website or a blog once that shows off these sorts of things! They are cool . . .

Then I found one where people use mechanical components and arrange them so you see something like that.

Then I found one (quite by accident!) that showed organic things like trees, that had grown together in ways or something that resembled . . . people being physically intimate, intimate body parts, and the like.

No one grew them that way on purpose, just people took pics and some person assembled them onto a site. Makes me wonder if I'd avert my daughter's eyes if we ran across a tree like that; probably not, because SHE wouldn't be seeing what I was seeing . . .

OH! And then there's the collection of trees that some guy grew them in really really cool sculpted ways, he died and no one could figure out how he did it; some of them were gifted to a regional amusement park so they would be decorative and that children and many people could enjoy them.

Well, I go on. But this sort of thing is very interesting!

Ooooh, also, what about THIS book, or series of books? I don't have them, but my daughter checked one or two out from the local library, and I had so much fun looking at them WITH her (and by myself, too!!!)

One more? Food for Thought

Now, sometimes they add to the thing to get the look, but frequently it has the look without anything at all! Cool and fun . . those authors have other books like these, too . . . . off to go veg out s'more, hee hee!

dawn said...

very cool! I didn't know it was actully called something-neat

Angel Chasse said...

I agree! Very cool thing :)

Thanks for the fun post!

Angel Chasse (again)

PalmTreeChick said...

That's a scary looking cinnamon bun.

HP said...

I always learn so much from you, Deb. I never realised there was a name for this thing....

Guess this might can all those sales of pac-man looking cereal bits on ebay!

jane said...

Yes, the dispenser is happy. The building has 3 cavities & I'm just glad the third picture is a cinnamon roll & not genitalia...yes, I was concerned.

OHN said...

My kids and I have a blast "finding" things that are imbedded or appear to look like something they are not--I always thought that was called "creative" or "daydreaming" LOL.

Grumpy Old Man said...

Apparently we're programmed to find faces in the swirl of sense impressions.

So much for the "blank slate."

Sunnie Dee said...

ok I think there might be something wrong with me because I could not see anything in that orange blob, certainly not mother teresa let alone a cinimon roll

jumpinginpuddles said...

alrite the firs one look like its smilin at ya at them toilets ya visitin.
The second look like the buildin on crack a somethin don look smilin ta me check out them stoned eyes
An the third look like picassos ear been torn off al ova gane sure didnt see no motha teresa or any ota motha except a motha a a ear

Fallen Angels said...

The cinnamon roll looks like Willie Nelson to me!! I often see "happy" and "sad" houses...and smiling cars. The "new" VW beetle is definitely smiling!

Like the new blog look.

~Deb said...

GAWD Dr. Deb - I totally needed this! Loved it! That cinnamon bun should be put on eBay!!!

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Reiki,
Thanks for visiting. Coming by to say hi now.

Dear Sare,
I love the books. How fun!

Dear Dawn,
I guess there could be a name for anything we experience.

Dear Angel,
I think it's a grand phenomenon. Nice to see you here!

Dear Palmtree,
I guess we'll never know if it was delicious.

Dear HP,
Yeah, I read about that!

Dear Jane,

Dear Ohn,
I like to think we have the hard wiring, but that creativity does allow for us to expand what we see. So, it is both.

Dear GOM,

Dear Sunnie,
It could be the resolution of the picture. It is a "famous" cinnamon bun. Maybe you can search for it and see it better elsewhere.

Dear JIP,
I think there are many things one can see in obscure images.

Dear FAllen,
Oh yes. Whenever I see a VW Beetle, I can't help but smile back.

Playing with the template. Hope it is viusally pleasing. I got bored of seeing the other one!


Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear ~Deb,
Oooh, you popped in as I was posting comment answers.

There are many famous pareidolia images. The cinammon bun is one of them.


Ian Lidster said...

When I was a young child I always saw faces on the fronts of cars, and some cars, depending on the placement of grille, headlights, windshields were happy cars, some angry, and some unhappy. It's an interesting human propensity and probably not that far removed from native peoples giving souls to inanimate objects in the sense that it humanizes them.
Interesting, as always.


dawn said...

woah,thought i had clicked the wrong link at 1st. love the new look! did you have to switch to beta, too? i had to so i can comment with my blogger id when necessary.

for me, i cant see the picture in the cinnamon bun because all i keep thinking is that it needs some icing

CrackerLilo said...

Maybe it ties in to our love of cute animals and "cuteness" in general. We have to rely on visual cues to be able to tell whether someone is angry, happy to see us, in need of protection, etc. So of course we can't turn this necessary skill off when we look at things that are inanimate, like buildings or food.

I'm also thinking of something L'Ailee and I have in common, that makes us giggle--we can't eat anything that looks "cute" without feeling a twinge of guilt, like Teddy Grahams or chocolate bunnies. Every post-Easter Half-Price Chocolate Day, we inevitably close our eyes and bite the heads off our bunnies so we can enjoy them. Yet I eat the occasional shrimp and she eats all kinds of meat without a second thought!

By the way, the layout's really nice.

PalmTreeChick said...

nice new layout!

Wendy C. said...

The human brain has evolved to be especially adept at recognizing patterns, especially faces.

Reiki 4 Life said...

um, am I seeing things or was this blog Blue yesterday? Thanks for stopping by my blog & commenting. Just curious - had you ever heard of Reiki before now? Reiki can be extremely helpful with healing Emotional/Mental issues,PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, and to help release old trauma from the mind and body...Some people that go to a talk therapy appt. followed by a Reiki session, as they feel it helps them release the pain, etc. easier & faster. That is probably one of the main reasons I was drawn to heal myself & then be able to help others do the same.

I am adding a link to you, as I think you have such a wonderful wealth of information here. Well Done. :-)

Meow said...

The first two pics look like happy things, for sure ... can't say I can see Mother Theresa in the 3rd though !!
It's interesting what people see in things ... I love making out pictures in the clouds.
Love your new look blog, Dr. Deb.
Have a wonderful weekend.
Take care, Meow

Ms.L said...

That is totally neat!
I love your new look:)

Nancy said...

I like your new blog...and I think the topic is fun. We use to try to find 'shapes" and name them on long car rides with the kids, many years ago.
I didn't know it had an actual name.

Godwhacker said...

I see the smiles, but I don't see Mother Teresa at all. Perhaps it is because I lack the faith. :)

Patient Anonymous said...

I have a hard time "visualizing" things so I did not pick up on these at all without the blatant direction or cue. At least for the facial/smiling ones. I saw nothing distinguishing in the bun.

Thanks for giving me a new term to add to my lexicon, however!

brandy said...

I'm just wondering, what do you do with a bun with Mother Teresa's face in it? It would feel wrong to eat it.

A Flowered Purse said...

LOL I do this all the time esp with knotty wood!! It passes time and i love doing it!
Happy weekend!!!!

east village idiot said...

Lovin' the new layout. And yes, I've past a smiling building once or twice!

HeiressChild said...

we used to look at the clouds for different shapes. love the new look on your blog. very bright and cheerful.

Moof said...

Oh my, I think I must have Pareidolia - in spades! *LOL*

I see patterns in wood grain, and spots on the ceiling ... and ... well, you get the idea.

There are some faces on my bedroom wall that I've actually named! *cough*

Ouch! I probably shouldn't have admitted that! ;o)

Great post, Dr. Deb!

kath said...


well the bldg. really is smiling, you know

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Dear Ian,
I used to - and still do- see faces on cars. The VW Beetle is always smiling at me!

Dear Dawn,
Icing would be soooo great on that bun! Yup, had to switch tot he new Blogger.

Dear Cracker,
I feel the same way when I eat something cute!

Dear Palm,

Dear Wendy,
Yes, that's right. I guess knowing that there is science behind certain phenomenons take the magic out of things a bit. But I still feel that magic nonetheless.

Dear Reiki,
I'll add you too. Yes, the template is different, lol! I love Reiki and think it is very healing.

Dear Meow,
The Mother Teresa cinnamon bun is a famous pareidolia. I can see it when the bun and a photo of MT are side by side.

Dear Ms. L,
Time for a change, I thought.

Dear EVI,
Especially living in the Big Apple, right? Sometimes I see grumpy building faces too.

Dear Nancy,
Projective tests, like the Rorschach, utilize pareidolia. It is fun to find "things" in obscure stimuli.

Dear Godwhacker,
The MT cinnamon bun is a "famous" pareidolia. I don't think faith, or lackthereof, has anything to do with it, lol!

Dear PA,
The resolution of these pics may have something to do with not seeing the face in the pastry.

Dear Brandy,
How funny. I think this famous bun has been preserved. No pun intended.

Dear Dianna,
Knotty wood and clouds are great forms to play with!

Dear Heiress,
I wanted a new look and chose colors I thought were soothing and serene. So glad you like it!

Dear Moof,
I have "friends" around the house too.

Dear Kath,
The building is TOTALLY smiling!!


Godwhacker said...

Hi Deb,
BTW: I'm liking the new template.

Clare said...

Thanks for this Deb. I didn't know it actually had a name :).

That bun does look kinda scary though lol! It would put me off eating it :).

Cathy said...

I do not see Mother Teresa in the bun...does that mean I am not suffering from that disease(?) (Thank God!) ;)

Anonymous said...

Doesn't everyone have this, or no?

Belizegial said...

Dr. Deb, there is power in suggestive thinking.

Until you mentioned it, all I saw was a cinnamon roll. Had to look real hard to find Mother Teresa therein. LOL

Have a great week!


Michelle said...

I see all the images you pointed out and agree. I totally believe and have experienced this firsthand. See the link below where I took a picture because I saw the face of Jesus in a piece of wood. Someone else said they saw instead a squirrel with a nut -- so I guess depending on our world view -- the images we see can be different.

See link for foto I mentioned:

(It's referenced in the 12/15/05 post on my blog.

STAG said...

I put some pictures of the great face of mars on my blog. This supports your contention admirably.

The thing about the face on Mars is that fortunes were made and spent, books were written, and sold. A lot of fluff and stuff considering it was a pile of random rocks.

I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find that whole religions were founded on these few photographs!

(click on my pic and go to Yusef's Journal. Say hi when you drop in!)

Marj aka Thriver said...

I see faces and patterns in everyday objects all the time--it's part of my dissociation sometimes.

Dr. Deborah Serani said...

Hey GW,
I like the template too.

Dear Clare,
No way I'd eat that bun!

Dear Cathy,
No! I actually see a face in the bun, not necessarily Mother T. IT's a famous pareidolia. Preserved somewhere I imagine.

Dear Mom,
We are all wired to see faces. An evolutionary device. Some people have a keener sense I suppose.

Dear Belize,
It's a famous pareidolia.

Dear Michelle,
I'll check out the link.

Dear Stag,
I tried to put the famous mars photo, but the one I found was too small. I will visit to see it on your blog.

Dear Marj,
Think of it as a keen skill as well as a helpful defensive tool.