Thursday, December 10, 2009

A Friend of Bill's?

Ah, our old friend Pareidolia makes a return with this completely secular image of Shakespeare in a dried blob of toothpaste. Hmm... come to think of it, it kind of looks like Darwin, too. Or my Uncle Cecil after a two-week bender. Or any old fart with a beard.

My favorite instances of pareidolia always seem to involve religious images - The Virgin Mary in a cheese sandwich or Jesus in a dog's butt. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, it's all part of a perfectly natural phenomenon that's been hard-wired into our brains, mostly as a form of self-preservation. Our memories are mostly images. Think back on a particularly wonderful event in your life. You may be remembering bits of conversation, the smell of a wonderful meal or the laughter you shared with a good friend. But I'll bet that most of what you're remembering are images of that experience. Most of us (the blind excluded) experience life visually. It's only natural that our brains should organize our thoughts in the same way. So, when we see something - anything - our brains try to interpret it visually, as well. Thus, a cloud becomes a bunny with fangs or a swirl in a knot of wood becomes the face of Chairman Mao. These occurrences are no more the work of God than they are the work of the Tooth Fairy. They are merely synaptic responses to visual stimuli. Sorry if I burst any bubbles, kids, but it's true.

So, the next time you see Jesus in a moldy piece of Swiss cheese, think about this:

More, very anon.

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