Monday, November 19, 2012


Seeing Things

I'd be surprised if this is an original thought but are the IDers suffering from a form of pareidolia?

There is a small study from Finland that suggests that:
[R]eligious people and paranormal believers perceived more face-like areas when some were present compared to non-religious individuals and skeptics. But believers also saw more face-like patterns in pictures when none were there.
One of the IDers' favorite examples of just being able to recognize design when you see it is Mount Rushmore. But then again ...

It seems to me a small enough step to go from seeing familiar figures on toast or even dog butts to seeing intelligently designed machines everywhere.

Hi, John. I'm not particularly religious, and hold little but scorn for the ghost lovers, but let me say something that may be relevant here. I've always been able to see faces in random patterns, such as leaves on a tree, especially when a breeze makes them move about a bit. In fact until fairly recently , I thought that everybody could do this. But more recently, as my Parkinson's problem is progressing, it is getting more difficult to stop seeing them.
(This is not good.)
Could there be some brain malfunction that encourages these odd changes in perception? And if an individual who hasn't been aware of the existence of pareidolia should suddenly hsve an unexpected "vision" of this sort, then might be fooled into thinking he is seeing something real?

Bob Carroll
I don't think it's a malfunction necessarily. As the author of the study said:

"It's normal, and actually fun, that our mind plays tricks and triggers the face perception when no actual faces are present," he suggests.

It's the import that you apply to the perception that can be a problem. I also have a fairly active pareidolia but if I see a face in something, I'm amused, not worshipful. The difference, I think, is in the desire to have the world be a place run from above rather than emerging from below.

Best wishes with your medical problem.
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