Pareidolia: One way our Brains Eff with Us

November 21, 2008

Elan Dubrofsky

Ever seen a face when looking at rocks on a beach? How about some sort of animal while gazing at clouds? Perhaps have you heard creepy messages when playing music backwards? In this talk, we will explore the phenomenon of our brains perceiving recognizable patterns in complete randomness, i.e. paraeidolia. On our journey we’ll encounter things like proselytising dolls, godly cheese sandwiches, monkey trees and martians. Along with these humorous examples, we’ll discuss why our brains evolved this seemingly mal-adaptive trait, and how psychology is trying to take advantage of pareidolia when diagnosing patients.