Pareidolia Search – part 3

Posted by on June 19, 2011 in Fun, Quick Note | 6 comments

Pareidolia is not just limited to toast, taps and teapots, it actually extends into any place where a random shape might be found. Recently I looked up into the clouds during a particularly spectacular sunset and, lo-and-behold, I saw this:

To me this looks just like a sleeping Luck Dragon from The Neverending Story. See?

Okay I admit, the resemblance is at best fanciful, but when I saw this cloud, the thought was immediately “Luck Dragon”. This goes to show that the relationship between that being seen and that perceived can be tentative, and there is always room for the person seeing it to make their own interpretations of what the image may mean. Should I take it as a sign that I need more luck in my life, or that I should watch The Neverending Story again and try to decode messages from the film? No, what it actually means is that the sun is setting and it’s nearly time for an evening drink!

Pareidolia can also become heightened when the thing we are looking at is misunderstood, or mysterious, like the surface of Mars for instance. To many people, the possibility of there being advanced life on Mars, in the past or even the present, is as open to them as the possibility that it might rain tomorrow. Recently I saw this article proclaiming  someone has seen the “‘Face of Gandhi’ Found On Google Mars”. Really? Gandhi? On Mars? Let’s have a look at this face then shall we?

Image from

Well if you squint, I guess you could see the head of a bald man, but to me it looks more like 80s wrestler George “The Animal” Steele.

This again shows you where my brain is at when looking at the world around me.

In any case, there is a long tradition of finding apparent faces and structures in space, from The Man In The Moon, to the famous Face On Mars. Given that space is mysterious, and we want there to be other life out there, we see these faces and see in them some kind of reflection of ourselves. Our brains can’t help but link the random positions of objects and shapes to seeing faces and human shapes. Here is a good article on “Seeing things on Mars“.

You might think that given the advances in technology we are all experiencing that cases of pareidolia might decrease, but all it has done is make it easier to find things that look like other things. The fact that someone found this “Gandhi face” on Google Mars means that others will be looking for faces too, some consciously, some passively. In my case, where I am actively looking for faces in random locations, I find these faces to be interesting and nothing more. To someone who is looking for a miracle, when they find the face it is revelation of significance.

Most times, it is nothing more than a trick of the light, a certain angle, or a the random chance that something has fallen or grown this way.

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