Nov 25

Day 7 – Apophenia & Pareidolia


What is apophenia and pareidolia?  They are the official terms that are more commonly referred to as ‘matrixing.’  Apophenia is defined as the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data.  It originated as a psychology term and can be a phenomenon or an abnormal one such as schizophrenia.  Neurologist Klaus Conrad coined the term which was defined as “unmotivated seeing of connections.”  Carl Jung, a Swiss psychologist, believed that coincidental events with some symbolic significance were actually meaningful.  Referred to as synchronicity, this is considered a form a apophenia.  (You can read more about synchronicity here:  http://www.skepdic.com/jung.html)  The terms patternicity and pattern-seeking are also used to describe aphophenia.  More about patternicity and apophenia can be found here:  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/patternicity-finding-meaningful-patterns/.

The Skeptic’s Dictionary helps put apophenia into perspective about what it really is and describes situations in which it appears here at this link:  http://skepdic.com/apophenia.html  If you want to take a more scientific look at apophenia, check out this article from Psychology Today on it:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/reality-play/201207/being-amused-apophenia.

Pareidolia is defined as a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) being perceived as significant; a form of apophenia.  It is the phenomenon of recognizing shapes, patterns, and familiar objects in random objects.  Your brain tries to make sense of what you are seeing by tying it to something familiar.  It is similar to the ink blot tests we have seen given and being asked “what do you see?”  Faces are the most commonly known form tied to pareidolia.

As with apophenia, The Skeptic’s Dictionary has a great article on pareidolia that gives us examples of what pareidolia is:   http://www.skepdic.com/pareidol.html  Live Science presents a great article about pareidolia in not only visions, but sounds:  http://www.livescience.com/25448-pareidolia.html  Even the BBC News has addressed pareidolia:  http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22686500.

Now that you know what each of these terms means, go back through some of your pictures, or some that you may have seen posted, and really look at them.  Is the image being seen really there or is there a chance that your brain is recognizing it as something?  Proper debunking methods should be applied when looking at these pictures so that you rule out a leaf whose veins look like a face or a reflection in a dirty window pane that looks like a spirit face looking at you.  Rule out what you KNOW could be a factor before you look into what could be paranormal.  Being an investigator means doing your research not just on all things paranormal, but all things that are NOT that affect your photography, and even videography, results.