I love to bake, especially when I have company in the kitchen. One day Grace and I were preparing cupcakes when the phone rang. I asked her to keep stirring for a minute while I answered. She continued to swirl the mixture determinedly until she dropped the spoon, grabbed paper and pencil and scrawled this urgent note:
I saw a swon in cupcake badr
Pareidolia (parr-i-DOH-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a random visual or auditory stimulus being perceived as familiar or meaningful. If you’ve ever seen the face of the man in the moon, or glimpsed a surprised face peering from your electrical outlet, you’ve experienced pareidolia. Played Beatles records backwards listening for secret messages? Also pareidolia.
Our brains are wired to make sense of multiple inputs and organize randomness into patterns to recall data easily. To some degree, even computers using facial recognition technology are triggered to make the same error, as Rebecca Rosen chronicled in the Atlantic.
For a little creative relief, try staring at some tree bark, a cloud, or even your grilled cheese sandwich and see if you can look beyond the obvious. I’d love to hear what you find!