Pareidolia. Can you trust your eyes?

By: Eric Haney (Munroe Falls Paranormal Society)

Pareidolia. Can you trust your eyes? The answer to this question is much harder than it appears. The term “Pareidolia” is described by Wikipedia as:

“Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant, a form of apophenia.”

Common examples of this phenomena would be seeing animals and faces in random patterns such as clouds, abstract paintings, art and so on. Pareidolia is a powerful psychological phenomenon which exists in our daily lives much more than we think. Our brains try to perceive random patterns as images we can understand which is why abstract art can be very personal and provide unique imagery to each individual that views it.

As humans, we don’t do well with chaos and random patterns, we need to make sense of our world around us, and when we are presented with something we don’t understand or cannot perceive we build an image out of the chaos so that it makes sense. This is not to say that real paranormal events don’t take place, just that these events are limited and the vast majority of random or chaotic patterns that we see or hear are just interpreted by our brains as images or sound we can understand.

In photos, videos and sound, we can easily be fooled into believing that we see or hear something that is not really there. For example: In the case of EVP’s, if you hear what you think is a word that may say “Hello”, but you allow others to here this EVP without telling them what you here. Most of them will hear something else, but the second you tell them what you think you hear then most all with then hear the same thing. This also applies to imagery, everyone may see something different in a random pattern, but plant the seed in their minds of what you see and then they all will see this image. We call this “Seeding”. It is another by product of Pareidolia.

The psychology of this phenomenon is very strong and will convince most people that what they are seeing is very real and significant. Unfortunately, the web is full of images, sound and videos of just this type of phenomena, and when you couple the written explanation with explicit titles and the imagery you can create a wave of belief in something that is just not really there. Orb’s in photos and video are another example of this. Many people will zoom in or crop an image around an expanded view of a classic dust or particle orb and inside this image of the orb is a lot of random pixels that make up patterns which that person may see as significant. Add an explicit title and descriptive theory as to what they feel it is, and you have started a wave of belief in something that’s just a random pattern of pixels.

This can get much more involved, and in time I will try to elaborate on my thoughts and experiences with this phenomenon. Until then, I hope this helps you understand a little more about Pareidolia.

The psychology of this phenomenon is very strong and will convince most people that what they are seeing is very real and significant. Unfortunately, the web is full of images, sound and videos of just this type of phenomena, and when you couple the written explanation with explicit titles and the imagery you can create a wave of belief in something that is just not really there. Orb’s in photos and video are another example of this. Many people will zoom in or crop an image around an expanded view of a classic dust or particle orb and inside this image of the orb is a lot of random pixels that make up patterns which that person may see as significant. Add an explicit title and descriptive theory as to what they feel it is, and you have started a wave of belief in something that’s just a random pattern of pixels.

This can get much more involved, and in time I will try to elaborate on my thoughts and experiences with this phenomenon. Until then, I hope this helps you understand a little more about Pareidolia.

About admin 40 Articles
I am the Founder & Lead Investigator for MFPS. My experience with paranormal investigation and research go as far back as the early 80's. I currently hold a position as an Electronics Engineer and Systems Programmer for a large national audio/visual company.

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