Ever look at something and all of sudden you see a face or another kind of object? Today I saw a giant lobster shape in the clouds. My son saw it too. Sometimes being told about an image is enough to make someone else see it.[ found this post in my drafts.]
Just a few minutes ago I’m watching a science video on how a type of caterpillar moves (its gut acts as a piston!), and wouldn’t you know it, I see a face on the xray image. Look at the image at about 1.47 mins. See if you can see the face. Hint, its not a full face*.
Today (6 Aug 2010) my son calls me to his room. After a shower a drop fell from his hair and landed on a cardboard and, yup, it formed a face. I guess this perceptual tendency is genetic.
Good article on this phenomenom: “Faces, Faces Everywhere”, The New York Times, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/13/health/psychology/13face.html?_r=1
There is a term for this phenomenom: Pareidolia. Wikipedia mentions this in the Apophenia article where it says: “…it has become more widely used to describe this tendency in healthy individuals without necessarily implying the presence of neurological differences or mental illness.” That’s a relief!
More importantly, I think, is the possible connection this type of illusion may have with popular delusions that keep professional skeptics in action: Pareidolia entry in The Skeptic’s Dictionary.
*The face in the video is the bottom half of an old man, it goes by quick, and unfortunately if you pause it, a big forward image is overlay ed.. At top is the bottom of the nose, the horizontal line below is the mouth. It reminds me of some sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci or another artist.