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Hidden messages

Subliminal messages

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The term pareidolia (pronounced /pæraɪˈdəʊliə/) describes a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples include seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse. The word comes from the Greek para- —"beside", "with" or "alongside"- meaning, in this context, something faulty or wrong (as in paraphasia, disordered speech)—and eidolon—"image" (the diminutive of eidos—"image", "form", "shape"). Pareidolia is a type of apophenia.


[edit] Examples

[edit] Religious

There have been many instances of perceptions of religious imagery and themes, especially the faces of religious figures, in ordinary phenomena. Many involve images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, or the word Allah.

In 1978, a New Mexican woman found that the burn marks on a tortilla she had made appeared similar to the traditional western depiction of Jesus Christ's face. Thousands of people came to see the framed tortilla.[1]

The recent publicity surrounding sightings of religious figures and other surprising images in ordinary objects, combined with the growing popularity of online auctions, has spawned a market for such items on eBay. One famous instance was a grilled cheese sandwich with the Virgin Mary's face.[2]

In September, 2007, the so-called "monkey tree phenomenon" caused a minor social mania in Singapore. A callus on a tree there resembles a monkey, and believers have flocked to the tree to pay homage to the Monkey God.[3]

[edit] Scientific

From the late 1970's through the early 1980's, Japanese researcher Chonosuke Okamura self-published a famous series of reports titled "Original Report of the Okamura Fossil Laboratory" in which he described tiny inclusions in polished limestone from the Silurian period (425 mya) as being preserved fossil remains of tiny humans, gorillas, dogs, dragons, dinosaurs, and other organisms, all of them only millimeters long, leading him to claim "There have been no changes in the bodies of mankind since the Silurian period . . . except for a growth in stature from 3.5 mm to 1,700 mm."[4]

[edit] Rorschach inkblot test

The Rorschach inkblot test uses pareidolia to attempt to gain insight into a person's mental state. The Rorschach is a projective test, because it intentionally calls out one's internal thoughts or feelings to be projected onto the cards. Projection in this instance is a form of "directed pareidolia" because the cards are designed not to resemble anything. [1]

[edit] Audio

In 1971, Konstantin Raudive wrote Breakthrough, detailing what he believed was the discovery of electronic voice phenomenon (EVP). EVP has been described as auditory pareidolia.[1]

The allegations of backmasking in popular music have also been described as pareidolia.[1]

[edit] Explanations

Carl Sagan hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are "hard-wired" from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.[5]

A 2009 magnetoencephalography study found that objects incidentally perceived as faces evoke an early (165 ms) activation in the ventral fusiform cortex, at a time and location similar to that evoked by faces, whereas other common objects do not evoke such activation. This activation is similar to a slightly earlier peak at 130 ms seen for images of real faces. The authors suggest that face perception evoked by face-like objects is a relatively early process, and not a late cognitive reinterpretation phenomenon.[6]

[edit] Gallery

[edit] See also

Other natural examples

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d Zusne, Leonard; Warren H. Jones (1989). Anomalistic Psychology: A Study of Magical Thinking. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. pp. 77–79. ISBN 0805805087. Retrieved on 2007-04-06. 
  2. ^ "'Virgin Mary' toast fetches $28,000". BBC News. 23 November 2004. Retrieved on 2006-10-27. 
  3. ^ Ng Hui Hui (13 September 2007). "Monkey See, Monkey Do?". The New Paper. p. 12, 13.,4139,141806,00.html. 
  4. ^ [1] Spamer, E. "Chonosuke Okamura, Visionary"
  5. ^ Sagan, Carl (1995). The Demon-Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark. New York: Random House. ISBN 0-394-53512-X. 
  6. ^ Hadjikhani N, Kveraga K, Naik P, Ahlfors SP (February 2009). "Early (M170) activation of face-specific cortex by face-like objects". Neuroreport. doi:10.1097/WNR.0b013e328325a8e1. PMID 19218867. 

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