Our old friend Pareidolia is back, with a twisted vengeance. To many people, bugs are creepy enough as it is (though I only really have a problem with houseflies, because they eat feces). Add a creepy, one-eyed, mustachioed cowboy hidden in the folds of their insectoid anatomy, and many folks just lose their sh*t. Like my poor sister did. "I won't sleep for a week," she emailed me in response to my sending her this picture.
The folks at Icanhascheezburger (LOLCats) have an entire blog devoted to this topic, called Happy Chair is Happy. Of course, most of the images there are of inanimate objects, which most rational adults can look at with humor and move on. But when an image such as the one above belongs to a living thing, people tend to freak out a little. Of course, the freak-outs tend to be a little more extreme when the images are perceived to be of a religious or "holy" nature.
I love that so many people can be fooled by these images. We are conditioned from birth to recognize certain things, especially our own mothers' faces. Is it really surprising we should continue to do so throughout the rest of our lives? But knowing the difference between reality and coincidence is what separates the fools from the rationalists. Am I saying that there is a difference between the guy who sees Jesus on a toasted English muffin and the guy who admits that the random pattern of toaster marks might resemble the face of Jesus (as if anyone who didn't live 2011 years ago in Jerusalem would know the difference, anyway)? Yes. Yes, I am.
And while it may be fun and exciting to see Mother Teresa's face in the folds of a cinnamon bun, it's no more important (or miraculous) than recognizing Godzilla in a cloud off the coast of New England or a cowboy on the shoulder of a grasshopper.