Some Scientific Facts About Pareidolia That You May Not Know

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scientific explanation pareidolia

Maybe at some point, you have seen faces on just about anything. And you can’t help but wonder if this is normal or you’re just seeing things you’re not supposed to see.

The truth is, it’s a phenomenon called Pareidolia and we humans experience this from time to time because of our evolutionary conditioning. So believe us when we say you’re perfectly sane and you can now take that sigh of relief because you’re not going nuts. We all see faces in clouds, the moon, and other inanimate objects one way or the other.

But why is this happening? Why do we perceive facial images everywhere? Is there a scientific explanation behind this or are our minds playing tricks on us? Stick around as we are going to share some scientific facts about pareidolia that you may not know.

Formal Definition

According to Wikipedia, pareidolia is defined as the tendency to interpret shapes and images which are known to an observer such as abstract patterns, and hidden messages in songs and music tracks (backmasking). But the most common type is the ability to see faces in common objects.

Part Of Our Evolutionary Development

Most scientists believe that the reason why we see faces is due to our brain’s evolutionary development. And we owe it all to our prehistoric ancestors as part of their survival mechanism.

During those times, early man has to look at the faces of anything they encounter to perceive threat especially, in low-light conditions. And this goes the same in the ability to recognize shapes as not being able to do so will mean the difference between life and death.

We Are Hardwired To See Face-Like Patterns Because It’s Part Our Social Life

As time goes by, our brains are preconditioned to activate the Fusiform Face Area (FFA) which, eventually became a part of our psychological function. That’s why we tend to see faces in lifeless objects even if the aspect of survival is no longer needed.

Nowadays, our ability to see faces is very useful in discerning threat. In fact, babies can process facial images long before they can recognize other objects. And this is the same ability that we now use in interpreting warning signs from a person that we’re talking with based on their facial expressions.

Its Connection To The Supernatural

In many cases, pareidolia is often associated with the religious and paranormal because we simply can’t explain why we see these faces on objects that they’re not supposed to be seen.

For instance, seeing the face of Jesus on a slice of toasted bread or perceiving an image of a deceased relative on the wall of your house – we instantly get spooked when experienced these situations because we can’t figure out the cause of these phenomena. And because we lack the scientific knowledge to give a proper explanation, we tend to jump into conclusions and turn into any religious and paranormal justifications in an attempt to comprehend and rationalize what’s happening.

Final Thoughts

Overall, there are scientific facts about pareidolia to rationally explain this phenomenon. So when you see a duck-life face on top of the church tower or a smiley expression on the dirt road, then it’s just pareidolia and that’s perfectly normal.

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