Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Pareidolia

First, there was the Jesus toast and the Virgin Mary grilled cheese.1




Then there was the Virgin Mary rock.



The Virgin Mary Tree.




The Jesus x-ray.



And now Our Blessed Lady of the Cerebellum (originally reported by Mind Hacks).



Pareidolia is the phenomenon of perceiving a meaningful stimulus (such as a face or a hidden message) in fairly random everyday objects or sounds. We do have quite a propensity to see faces everywhere, and some religious people see the face of god (and other religious iconography) everywhere.

Neuroanthropology covers the serious side of the story, explaining that the brain in the upside down MRI belongs to Pamela Latrimore, who is quite ill with a variety of ailments. She's auctioning off the scan to help pay her medical bills.
The listing on eBay for the Mary MRI can be found here. Reading the listing is heart-breaking, not only because of the woman’s own suffering, but also because of her account of how the manufacture of dioxin and Agent Orange has affected health in her community. She writes that she is putting the image up for auction, not only to raise money for her healthcare, but also to attract greater attention to the problem of environmental poisoning in her area of Florida [NOTE: it's actually Jacksonville, AK, her former home and a Superfund site in the 1980s. For more info, see this EPA document].
Footnote

1 For an extensive catalog of religious pareidolilia see Yoism featuring Penn and Teller.

ADDENDUM: Here's a great one recommended by jdc325. Somehow, I'm reminded of the Scary Skull Table Illusion.

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2 Comments:

At December 12, 2008 6:53 AM, OpenID jdc325 said...

Can I recommend this pic: Jesus/Girl? I can make it flip between the two if I look at it the right way, which freaks me out a little.


[Hat-tip to Trinoc from the BadScience forums who posted this pic over there]

 
At December 13, 2008 11:16 PM, Blogger The Neurocritic said...

Thanks, that's a great one.

 

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