Could you have Pareidolia?
A Miami woman who sold a grilled cheese sandwich on eBay for $28,000 USD probably had pareidolia. She believed she saw the face of the Virgin Mary grilled into the bread. To her it was a miracle and somewhere out there in eBay land a buyer agreed.
Pareidolia (pronounced per-ˌī-ˈdoh-lee-a) is the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. There are plenty of famous examples of this phenomenon – from the Shroud of Turin to the Face of Mars. The Rorschach ink blot test used by psychologists and psychiatrists is an example of directed pareidolia. In the test, a doctor holds up a random ink blot and asks the patient what the image looks like to them. The test itself implies that it can be quite normal to see the specific in the ambiguous.
The Iceberg Pareidolia Test
Anyone who has seen a man in the moon or a familiar image in a cloud formation has experienced pareidolia. On a voyage of the northwest passage between Greenland and Arctic Canada, I developed a severe case while photographing the many icebergs we passed along the way. If you have this condition, you might be able to see them too.
What to do if you have Pareidolia
Don’t panic. The good news is, pareidolia is not a disease, it is a psychological phenomenon. I like to think it occurs in people who are especially intelligent. If you have some images of pareidolia, please share them in the comments. We’d love to see them.
Where can I see Icebergs?
There are several places in the world where you can see icebergs. I saw hundreds on an Arctic Safari sailing with Adventure Canada.