That Crouton Looks Like Aunt Marge!
March 28, 2008 10:56 PM   Subscribe

Things That Look Like Other Things. Also known as pareidolia, it's the phenomenon in which our brains perceive familiar things (especially faces and human forms) in random places. See also The Pareidolia Museum and the Flickr pareidolia pool. [Previous pareidolia-related threads here]
posted by amyms (40 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
awesome.. want to go listen to Pink Floyd now very cool thanks
posted by celerystick at 11:26 PM on March 28, 2008


My kitchen floor stain is obviously a face, but whose? I finally realized that it's the Minnesota Iceman!
posted by Tube at 11:37 PM on March 28, 2008


This person clearly doesn't know that a grilled cheese isn't a piece of cheese, grilled.
posted by loiseau at 11:42 PM on March 28, 2008


I tried to look at the pictures without reading what they were supposed to look like, and I got it less than fifty percent of the time. Maybe I just got no imagination.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:45 PM on March 28, 2008


The Virgin Mary grilled cheese isn't pareidolia, it's an outright hoax. It's a picture of Marlene Dietrich -- this picture of Marlene Dietrich, in fact. Doesn't take a trick of the brain to perceive something that's actually there.
Cool post, though. The skull is especially freaky.
posted by katemonster at 11:47 PM on March 28, 2008


Very compelling, Tube, lol.
posted by amyms at 11:49 PM on March 28, 2008


OMG you're right about Marlene Dietrich, katemonster!
posted by amyms at 11:50 PM on March 28, 2008


I can't see the man's face in #1...

... oh wait, there it is.

*Quietly freaks out*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:58 PM on March 28, 2008


It occurs to me that if this list were on Cracked.com it would be a) much more well-written and b) instantly torn to shreds. If only this were as amusing as "People Who Look Like Things," featuring Dr. Nick Riviera. Here's more links/discussion on the topic.
posted by zeusianfog at 12:00 AM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


zeusianfog: You're just bitter because you need a new candle*.

*I'd been wracking my brain for an excuse to make the reference, so thanks!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:03 AM on March 29, 2008


Its telling that most of the similarities are of a Christian nature.

I pity the poor fool that finds the likeness of Mahomed in a stained tea towel or a falafel.
posted by mattoxic at 12:40 AM on March 29, 2008


Ohhh thank you! Particularly for the Flickr pool which I suspect I will have a lot of fun going through over the next few days. (I love this one.)
posted by LeeJay at 12:41 AM on March 29, 2008


I prefer pareidolia of the "that looks like a wang" variety to the religious kind. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks most Virgin Mary sightings look a lot like vaginas.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:31 AM on March 29, 2008


If they have to tell you what it looks like (as the first link insists on doing), then it probably doesn't look that much like the thing. They'd be a lot more interesting without the descriptions, except for the ones that really don't look like much of anything.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:43 AM on March 29, 2008


I couldn't see the man in #1 either. Perhaps it doesn't work if you know how to spell "forest".
posted by ubiquity at 3:46 AM on March 29, 2008


angry bbq hates winter
posted by milquetoast at 4:36 AM on March 29, 2008


I'll never forget the day when I was swimming in a Lake in GA with my cousins, and there was a giant cumulonimbus overhead that looked like a huge dude giving us the finger.

There was also the time I was in a plane and saw a protrusion above the otherwise flat cloud layer that looked like a giant gun pointed at the earth.
posted by Eideteker at 4:47 AM on March 29, 2008


I got a cute little cartoon elephant head in my coffee pot, though some misguided and apparently blind people continue to insist that it's a squirrel. see? elephant.
posted by taz at 5:25 AM on March 29, 2008


You're all obviously just a bunch of pareidophiles!
posted by strangeguitars at 6:19 AM on March 29, 2008


Good site, if only for the cats that look like Hitler link.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:23 AM on March 29, 2008


happy chair enjoys life to fullest
posted by rifflesby at 6:34 AM on March 29, 2008 [7 favorites]


This reminds me that Things Look Like Things is fun to look at. Though not pareidolia, actually.
posted by Ella Fynoe at 6:46 AM on March 29, 2008


OMG you're right about Marlene Dietrich, katemonster!

I think not. The direction of light is wrong (see the shadow on the nose). I think katemonster is a victim of double pareidolia. The interesting thing to me is how this phenomenon has evolved through natural selection, likely because it gives us a better chance of survival. I must admit, though--the fact that virtually all of these faces in trees and rocks and smoke are right side up makes me wonder if these really are signs from the spiritual world intended for human observation :^)
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 7:19 AM on March 29, 2008


I cooked up a nice plate of beans yesterday, and just as I was about to consume them, I noticed that the beans had somehow randomly fallen in such a way as to produce a perfect representation of mathowie's face.

I called The Golden Palace and asked them to bid, but all they were offering was entry into a $10 sit-and-go. So I called mathowie and tried to sell them to him, but he couldn't see it at all. He said I was overthinking the whole business.

I was hurt, insulted and disappointed by our leader. What little faith the guru has in his acolytes. As if anybody who posts to this site would ever overthink such a miraculous manifestation of the divine... He was trying to suggest that it was nothing more than, you know, a plate of beans...

Heretic! Let him burn in MetaHell!

Those of you who wish to form an orthodox Mefi faith, unbeset by the heresies of its one-time leader, please form a queue to the right. At our meetings, we will venerate the face of the *real* mathowie, as was miraculously revealed to us all in the Sacred Beans of Great Crosby. And as for that imposter who just happens to resemble the one true bean-God -- well, he's actually the anti-mathowie!

Anyone found pledging allegiance to him will be burned with the toast!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:54 AM on March 29, 2008 [2 favorites]


I do this all the time. The other day, I saw an ostrich running across the road. Turns out, it was some guy in a white shirt walking his black dog. But I saw ostrich.

It's like my subconscious has completely rejected Occam's Razor for my amusement.
posted by sugarfish at 8:30 AM on March 29, 2008 [4 favorites]


ok. where's the face in #1 in the first link?
posted by es_de_bah at 9:23 AM on March 29, 2008


The full story of the Nun Bun, #12. Doesn't seem to have been stolen as the article claimed.
posted by Locative at 9:34 AM on March 29, 2008


The Virgin Mary grilled cheese isn't pareidolia, it's an outright hoax. It's a picture of Marlene Dietrich

"Marlene watches from my sammich, her mocking smile says it all"... nah, doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

It is, indeed, telling that it's always Christians who are seeing religious icons in their snacks. Just once, I'd like to hear about a Hindu seeing Vishnu in his chutney or the image of L. Ron Hubbard appearing in a Pinkberry yogurt.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:54 AM on March 29, 2008


rifflesby just gave me a new favorite, displacing Emo Bath.
posted by jamaro at 10:15 AM on March 29, 2008


I also couldn't find the face in #1. I asked my roommate if he could find it, and he also had nothing. Unless the entire thing is a face, we're both totally lost on it. Kind of anti-climatic number 1 consider Darth Vader/Gorilla was #2 and it's difficult to deny it.

I also thought the skull was super cool.

Awesome post and really interesting topic in human perception!
posted by Gular at 11:58 AM on March 29, 2008


Gular: #1: The hills are the eyebrow/eye shadows. The central tree trunk is the shadow down the side of the nose, the mouth and chin are bearded--very Christ-like. Squint, or look from a distance.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:40 PM on March 29, 2008


This page looks exactly like Beelzebub; when turned upside down, after ingesting certain mushrooms.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:12 PM on March 29, 2008


Gular: #1: The hills are the eyebrow/eye shadows. The central tree trunk is the shadow down the side of the nose, the mouth and chin are bearded--very Christ-like. Squint, or look from a distance.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:40 PM on March 29 [+] [!]


Thanks! I finally see it...

Is there some kind of clause about how many people need to be able to see it before it gets labeled that phenomena as opposed to just being random crazy?
posted by Gular at 2:10 PM on March 29, 2008


I had no idea there were so many Elephant Rocks.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:32 PM on March 29, 2008


"Is there some kind of clause about how many people need to be able to see it before it gets labeled that phenomena as opposed to just being random crazy?"

Brainiac Art Historian Norman Bryson would probably have something to say on that(schemas). Me, shrug .. back to my Pink Floyd ...
posted by celerystick at 2:49 PM on March 29, 2008


There's this strange knothole in the hardwood floor of the bathroom of my parents' place. It's right beside the bathtub and you pretty much have to stare at it if you're sitting on the toilet.
I've always seen it as a face, sort of a 1950's boy, slightly Alfred E. Neuman-esque.
I took a really bad, low-light picture of it with a shitty digital camera about 4 years ago. I need to go back with a tripod and take a decent picture; I've always thought it would make a good album cover.
posted by chococat at 4:33 PM on March 29, 2008 [1 favorite]


I couldn't find the face in #1 either.
posted by sixcolors at 5:12 PM on March 29, 2008


I sometimes perceive shadows and clothes hanging on backs of chairs, doors, etc*. as people, and the realism can be strong enough to actually startle me. I do like the concept of pareidolia, mainly because I've been wondering if this is how hallucinations start out.
(.... is it?)


*very frequent. I have issues with getting clothes onto hangers and into the closet.






posted by NikitaNikita at 5:49 PM on March 29, 2008


To me, the enraged cloud man just looks like a happy clown waving hidy. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 8:51 PM on March 29, 2008


Heh, the Emo bath and the Happy Chair both took their stock images from the Faces in Places blog, previously featured on MeFi here.

I love that blog and is one of the brightest rays of sunshine on my RSS feed. Never fails to make me smile.

That said, I agree with the people who couldn't quite see most of these. A bit contrived, no? I can sort of see the man in #1, but that's cause I'm looking for him. *shrug*
posted by Phire at 6:00 PM on April 10, 2008


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