More pareidolia

More pareidolia

More pareidolia

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
July 20 2005 11:14 PM

More pareidolia

That's the psych term for seeing patterns (usually faces) in random patterns. Like, say, the "face" on Mars, or Lenin in a shower curtain, or, of course, the mother of all faces: the Virgin Mary in a stain on an underpass.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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People tend to see what they wish to see, so of course any vaguely longish oval with a smear around it looks like Jesus. Scale is not important; you can see Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich, or in a bank window (scroll down that page to see it).

Some people see Jesus in the Eagle Nebula, which is hard to beat for scale. Still for terrestrial terms, this new one ain't so bad.

It's brought to you courtesy of Google maps, it's two miles wide and four long, and it's in Peru. I'll admit, it does look like a face, but unless Jesus bears an uncanny resemblance to Gandalf (or perhaps Confucius), I'm guessing that some people are seeing a wee bit too much into this. Of course, when you see something like this:

... maybe Gandalf isn't such a bad guy to have around.