Tag: Pareidolia

Pareidolia and Photos – Am I seeing Things?

April Abercrombie

April Abercrombie

I was Case Manager for Denver Paranormal Research Society for nearly 4 years. While on the team, I primarily conducted investigations for clients of their private residences. I have since left Denver Paranormal to pursue my own research and conduct investigations of haunted locations. I now focus mostly on historical places.
April Abercrombie

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parei

We have heard it here in this group many, many times…”It just pareidolia”, which is the tendency for the brain to perceive meaningful shapes, especially faces, in random visual or audible stimuli. The good news though is that we have the ability to override this natural instinct of ours.

If we as paranormal investigators want to actually present real proof of paranormal events to the world and further the fringe sciences, we need to remain purely objective when analyzing our evidence.

We need to detach ourselves from our evidence completely, and be willing to debunk it.

IS THE PHOTO WORTHY OF BEING CONSIDERED?

First and foremost before we even get into looking at images in a photo, we need to be sure the photo is a suitable candidate for analysis. We need to perform a quality check:

– The photo needs to be in good focus. No blurry or poor quality, badly pixelated photos.

– The exposure needs to be reasonably correct. It cannot be too dark, nor too bright. If the photo does not pass this quality check, then it cannot be offered as evidence to the world at large. It’s just not good enough to stand as any type of proof. This is because blurry or bad photos give alot of fodder for your brain to use to make all sorts of
wonderful, or horrific, images.You have to let it go! Keep it for yourself if you wish, but do not submit it as evidence to anyone else.

If the photo passes the initial quality check, we can then analyze any images it contains.

DO I SEE A FACE?

When analyzing an image we see in a photograph, we need to observe its qualities closely, without bias. We MUST be able to leave our beliefs and wishes at the door.

Study the image in question. The image should be an actual object – it should be separate and apart from anything else in the photo, with a distinct shape. It cannot be inside a bush, in tree branches, in the shadows etc. It also MUST be clear and obvious. If you have to draw circles or outlines, or zoom in to see it, it is not good enough to be considered. Zooming into a digital photo causes pixelation and digital artifacting, which can add to the pareidolia effect.

We need to set aside any impressions we get and look at it purely objectively. Look ONLY at what is ACTUALLY there. For instance, we can’t call 3 ovoid shapes and a curvy line a face. For it to be a real face, we need to see actual eyes, a nose and a mouth. If it only *seems* like a face, then we have to let it go.

So…

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF TO DETERMINE IF AN IMAGE YOU SEE IN A PHOTO MAY BE A PRODUCT OF PAREIDOLIA

Looking at the photo below, ask yourself:

Is the image made of vague shapes that only resemble a face or figure? Is the image composed of other elements in the photo, such as branches, shadows, leaves, reflections, patterns on wood or other
materials, etc?

Does the image look like an actual object existing independently in the photo? This photo is of a brick on my fireplace. My house is not haunted. This is not a face.

WE CAN DO THIS!

If we really want to find proof of the paranormal, there is no other way – we must be objective always. We must debunk, debunk, debunk. When in doubt we must be willing to throw it out. This goes for every piece of evidence we analyze whether it be visual, audio or other, whether it be yours, mine or ours.

If we hold ourselves to these standards, and come across something we cannot debunk, that makes for strong evidence, and that is the ONLY way we will further the fringe science of paranormal investigating.

April Abercrombie

April Abercrombie

I was Case Manager for Denver Paranormal Research Society for nearly 4 years. While on the team, I primarily conducted investigations for clients of their private residences. I have since left Denver Paranormal to pursue my own research and conduct investigations of haunted locations. I now focus mostly on historical places.
April Abercrombie

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Pareidolia Art

Shellie Langdeau

Shellie Langdeau

Health & Safety
Department Chair

Hi all! My name is Shellie. I live in Rockville, Rhode Island. Born and raised in “the sticks”, so to speak. I’ve been a social worker for very close to 25 years, working directly with people who suffer from chronic mental illness and substance abuse issues. I didn’t have my first paranormal experience till I was in my early 30’s. Since that time, I’ve been infatuated with the unknown. My mind is driven to want provable facts though. I will search and search to find a logical explanation for everything lol.
Shellie Langdeau

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Screenshot_2Pareidolia (pronounced pa-ri-DOE-lee-a) is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus (often an image or a sound) being perceived as significant. Common examples including seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing hidden messages on records played in reverse.
It is thought that there may be some kind of evolutionary advantage to this malfunctioning of the perceptual
apparatus, particularly with regard to our tendency to see faces in commonplace objects. Carl Sagan hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face. While this allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor
visibility, it also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces. The evolutionary advantages of being able to identify friend from foe, with split second accuracy, are numerous; prehistoric (and even modern) men and women who accidentally identify an enemy a a fried could face deadly consequences for their mistake. This is only one among many evolutionary pressures responsible for the development of the modern facial recognition capability of humans.
In 2009, a magnetoencephalography study found that objects incidentally perceived as faces, evoke an early
activation in the ventral fusiform cortex, at a time and location similar to that evoked by faces, whereas other
common objects do not evoke such activation. This activation is similar to a slightly earlier peak seen for
images of real faces. The authors suggest that face perception evoked by face-like objects is a relatively
early process, and not a late cognitive reinterpretation phenomenon.
This study has helped to explain why people identify the “face” features, as in the picture below, so quickly
and without hesitation. Precognitive processes are activated by the “face-like” object, which alert the
observer to the emotional state and identity of the subject….even before the conscious mind begins to process
or even receive the information. The “stick figure face”, despite its simplicity, conveys mood information (in

this case, disappointment or mild unhappiness). It would be just as simple to draw a stick figure face that

would be perceived as hostile and aggressive. This robust and subtle capability is the result of eons of natural
selection favoring people most able to quickly identify the mental state, for example, of threatening people,
thus providing the individual an opportunity to flee and fight another day. In other words, processing this
information subcortically (and, therefore, subconsciously and before it is passed on to the rest of the brain for
detailed processing, accelerates judgment and decision making when alacrity is paramount. This ability,
though highly specializes for the processing and recognition of human emotions, also functions to determine
the demeanor of wildlife.
Screenshot_1
Shellie Langdeau

Shellie Langdeau

Health & Safety
Department Chair

Hi all! My name is Shellie. I live in Rockville, Rhode Island. Born and raised in “the sticks”, so to speak. I’ve been a social worker for very close to 25 years, working directly with people who suffer from chronic mental illness and substance abuse issues. I didn’t have my first paranormal experience till I was in my early 30’s. Since that time, I’ve been infatuated with the unknown. My mind is driven to want provable facts though. I will search and search to find a logical explanation for everything lol.
Shellie Langdeau

Latest posts by Shellie Langdeau (see all)

Day 7 – Apophenia & Pareidolia

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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.

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Pareidolia – An Example

Photography – Is it paranormal? An example of Pareidolia

Submitted by Jennifer Oberski

 

Click for full size

 

One of the things that you have to be very careful of as a paranormal investigator is being too quick to call something ghostly, or paranormal, before sitting down to take a closer look at what you may actually have in front of you.

 

Troy Truth Seekers offers an Introduction to Paranormal Investigation course in partnership with the local cultural center, and we took the last attendees to an investigation at the Overfield Tavern Museum here in Troy, Ohio.  There haven’t been any specific claims of haunting or paranormal activity at the Overfield, and that, coupled with its well documented history and layout, make it the perfect place to run through an investigation for the first time.

 

One of my favorite pieces at the Overfield is an antique mirror that hangs in the hallway on the first floor.  You can see it above, the picture was taken by one of the Intro to Para-Investigation attendees on our last mock investigation.

 

Wikipedia has a great article on Pareidolia, and this is a perfect example.  As the mirror in the picture above aged, the silver backing had become damaged, and the shape just happens to be vaguely human, especially when viewed on a three inch lcd screen on the back of a digital camera.

The lesson to take away from this example is to always be aware of your surroundings, take multiple shots of the same area, and don’t be afraid to look at something with your own eyes, instead of from behind the lens.

 

 

Jennifer Oberski a member of the Troy Truth Seekers, from Troy, Ohio.