Thursday, February 7, 2008

Pareidolia... Really?

The term pareidolia "describes a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hidden messages on records played in reverse." (source: Pareidolia. (2008, January 29). In Wikipedia, The free encyclopedia. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from

I'm sure you've all heard of this phenomenon. There was the tortilla that supposedly bore the image of Christ...there was the toasted cheese sandwich that resembled the Virgin Mary. But, be it a Nasa photograph containing what appears to be a man-like creature, the spirit of the late Pope waving at us from a bonfire, or a potato chip that resembles Jay all can be classified as pareidolia.

I've always thought of myself as a fairly logical person. My point of view is that most of these bizarre sightings can be scientifically explained away. Many, I'm sure could be attributed to a neuro-chemical imbalance, an overactive imagination, or hallucinogenic drug use. I must say, and I mean no disrespect, I've always thought that the people who brought forth these interesting observations, could probably stand to have a little psychiatric observation of their own. I mean, seriously...this stuff is just too out there to be entirely legitimate. Maybe a good conversational topic among close friends and family...but not necessarily something you would want to point out to society as a whole. (Unless you enjoy the soothing comfort of a padded room and a wardrobe consisting entirely of summer-white garments that fasten in the back.)

That's not to say that I have never enjoyed lying in the grass and looking for shapes in the clouds. My daughters and I have frequently done so. We'd find boats and dragons... houses and butterflies. But, I never felt that there was any "divine significance" attributed to our discoveries. Occasionally, I might make a pancake that vaguely resembles Scooby-Doo. I may have once spilled bleach on a load of darks and noticed the blotchy profile of John Lennon on my Levi's. (shrug) Purely coincidence, I say. Or...IS IT?!

Yesterday, I was picking up my daughters from school. I pulled up in line waiting for the little darlings to be dismissed. Then, in my rearview mirror I swear I saw it!! There, reflected in my mirror, I could see the windshield of the car behind me...and in the center of that windshield, was the frosty image of Peter Criss (the legendary former drummer for KISS) in full cat makeup!!! I got chills...really!! Especially since... at the exact moment I saw the image... the song Beth was being played on the radio!! (well, actually, I'm lying about that part... I was actually listening to my Peter Frampton cd... but, anyway...)

I couldn't help but continue to look back at the "face" on the windshield. It was almost like it was calling to me! As my rear defroster started kicking into action, and the remnants of frost started melting away from my rear window, it was almost as if the "face" was moving... like it was trying to talk to me (or sing for me).

I continued to watch...absolutely mesmirized.

Eventually my windows cleared completely...and much to my dismay, I saw that the image I had been staring at with such intensity...was actually a handicap "hang tag" on the visor of the car behind me... accentuated by the frost that I was too lazy to scrape before I left the house! (sigh!) (It really is quite amazing how a frosty handicap symbol can "magically transform" into a 70's rock icon under the right conditions.)

I really need to switch to decaf.

Well, folks, I really should be going. I'm sure if I go take a peek in one of those horrid food storage containers in my refrigerator... I might just be able to find a map of Atlantis in my moldy three-bean casserole. Could sell on ebay... you never know! (wink)

No comments: