Take the Iceberg Pareidolia Test

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.

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Related: Check out our post about Ilulissat, Greenland – Birthplace of Icebergs. 

Do You have Pareidolia? Take 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.

Cool Pareidolia Collectible: Want a pareidolia T-shirt? It isn’t iceberg pereidolia – it’s music pareidolia and it’s less than $7. Check it out!

Faces

Image of a iceberg that looks like a face - iceberg pareidolia test
A human face looking off to the left.
Image of an iceberg that looks like a face - iceberg pareidolia test
A human face looking towards the right.

Animals

Image of an iceberg that looks like a camel - iceberg pareidolia test
A camel with four seagulls on its back.
An image of an iceberg that looks like a woodpecker - iceberg pareidolia test
A woodpecker looking to the right.

Buildings

Image of an iceberg that looks like the Parthenon - iceberg pareidolia test
The Roman Pantheon.
Image of icebergs that look like pyramids - iceberg pareidolia test
Two Egyptian pyramids.
Image of an iceberg that looks like the Sidney Opera House - iceberg pareidolia test
The Sydney Opera House.
Image of an iceberg that looks like a sphinx - iceberg pareidolia test
An Egyptian sphinx looking to the left.

Random Structures

Image of an iceberg that looks like a grand piano - iceberg pareidolia test
The top of a grand piano.

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.

Check out our post about Ilulissat, Greenland -Birthplace of Icebergs

69 thoughts on “Take the Iceberg Pareidolia Test

  1. Joanna Reply

    I see faces all the time, my question does this go with letters and words on rocks trees or is that something different I have always been able to see words or letters in trees, rocks, anything really I look at I see a lot of numbers and arrows

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Joanna. Seeing recognizable objects (faces, numbers, letters, arrows etc.) in otherwise random or unrelated objects or patterns is pareidolia. At one time pareidolia was considered a symptom of psychosis, but it is now seen as a normal human tendency. It’s interesting that some people have a greater tendency towards it than others. We kept seeing familiar objects in the icebergs when we were in the Arctic. -Debbie

      1. Delmus

        The frist iceberg photo. Is two chimpanzee ape’s..A male is looking STRAIGHT with his head upright and next to his face is a female chimpanzee ape with her head tilted to the left with a small smile on her face the next photo is a small child penguin tucked under a small cave with his back to the wall and wings spread out and one eye looking out of the cave with a small beak..

      1. wanderwoman

        Apophenia is the tendency to perceive a connection or a meaningful pattern between unrelated things. You might see patterns that aren’t really there. And you’re right in that it could be patterns in numbers.

      2. Monica L Hass

        I see faces or figures, some are human some are animals. I see them on a bathroom floor pattern or on a wall just painted. Sometimes on a ceiling…i always thought of being artistic and wish I could draw them.

      3. Sheila J

        I see faces on thing all the time. Last August, I started to see a face on the wall at Church.
        Yesterday(9/5/21), I saw 2 different faces on the wall st Church and the faces was constantly changing. Kind of freaked me out a little because I have never seen faces on objects change before.

  2. Johanna T. Reply

    since i was young i’ve always seen faces on random things. i’m 44 years old now and nothing’s changed. i was going through instagram the other day and found the hashtag #iseefaces. i searched online and that’s what i have. pareidolia. i only see faces. like all the time. in shadows, trees, scratches on walls and doors, floors. everywhere at random times and no one i know sees it unless i actually point it out to them. thanks for your article.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks so much for the comment, Johanna. Seeing faces is the most common form of pareidolia. When we were in the Arctic, I kept seeing faces and other familiar shapes in the icebergs. It’s nice to know that pareidolia is normal. Some people seem to be more prone to seeing faces or other familiar shapes in random data than other people do. I guess we both fit into that category. Thanks for reading the article and giving feedback. All the Best, Greg.

    2. Angela L Brown Reply

      It started with the popcorn ceiling in my room when I was very young. As an adult it started with plain blank printer paper. Then concrete and stucco. And most recently, I have been seeing works of art in used wet sand paper, the accidental paint spill and a very large dustpan (so many imaginary scenes)! I thought there something mentally wrong with me! I am glad I am not alone!

    3. Isa Reply

      Did it occur to you that some might be faces from departedôes who wish to communicate? (Without being too crazy..lol)

  3. Mandy Ditto Reply

    Nice article. I live in Brazil and I’ve been reading that seeing faces is common, but I see animals all the time. Friendly ones. 😀 I usually see dogs, cats, horses, pigs and even monkies on the patterns of the tiles in the kitchen. Thanks for all the insights. The article is very interesting.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks so much, Mandy. Interesting that you see animals. Good thing they’re friendly. Sometimes I see buildings. I saw one iceberg I thought looked like a sports complex near where I live. I like sports though. Another one looked like an Egyptian sphinx to me. Pareidolia is an interesting topic. Thanks again for the feedback. Greg

    2. Alefiyah Reply

      I can see faces in mostly everything I see….not only face I can see their movement and can also sometime hear them
      …I am 14 year old teenager..and sometimes I get afraid…I don’t know what to do…am I mad?

      1. wanderwoman

        Thanks for reaching out. Seeing faces or other meaningful images in random objects is a normal human tendency. Seeing movement or hearing voices might be something else. Please talk to someone. A parent, a teacher, your doctor or another adult you trust can help you determine if this is something to be concerned about and help you get treatment if you need it.

  4. Charlotte Reply

    I have a question also, what dose it mean when you see faces, but also see animals or monsters? Like once my mum was driving and I saw a black cat lying on the sidewalk and I told my mum about it and she looked over and said there was no black cat.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Hi Charlotte, It can be normal to see faces and other shapes in random objects. For example, when you look at clouds, you might see a face, a cow, a monster or maybe even a house. That is pareidolia and it’s normal. If you often see animals, monsters or people that others cannot see and that are not hidden in random objects, that could be something else. Whenever you’re concerned, it’s a good idea to talk to an adult you trust. A parent, a teacher, your doctor or another adult you trust can help you determine if this is something to be concerned about. It’s good that you asked your mum about the black cat. You should talk to her or someone else you trust – especially if it happens again.

    2. Ricci Moran Reply

      I see faces in lots of things, the sky but mostly rocks
      I find myself hoarding every rock I find until it is a problem. My husband doesn’t see what i see. But I can clear as day

  5. Ken Reply

    The one Iceberg with1 face facing to the right I see 8 other faces…..
    2Just behind the eye is a face looks like its yelling.
    3The very top looks like a hood with a long nose to the left.
    4Dead center bottom looks like a woman with long hair.
    5to the left looks like a face leaning back facing left and 6a smaller face at the lips.
    7To the right of the woman looks like a half face.
    I see a couple more but too hard to describe how…
    I see 9 faces total

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Hi Ken, I can see most of those faces that you pointed out. I hadn’t noticed them until you pointed them out though. Isn’t pareidolia an interesting phenomenon? Thanks for the comment! -Greg

      1. Marlene Kepple

        I’m so glad to find out I’m not the only one. Alot of times I draw what I see. It’s very therapeutic. I see all kinds of things in objects. Mostly rocks though. When I point out to people what I see, it takes them a few minutes looking but then they can see it too. I’m 55 and it has gotten more prominent as I’ve gotten older. It was pretty strong when I was really young too. Thanks for this article. It’s been really helpful

  6. Joanna Aslamatzis Reply

    I once saw this face in the sky made out of clouds Wich looked like it was smiling, earlier that day I saw another face smilin* at me in the clouds. When I was going for a shower I saw a face smiling at me on the stairs, I don’t know if I have it

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Hi Joanna, Thanks for the comment. By the sounds of it – you probably have it. On the positive note, pareidolia is completely normal. Some people might be inclined to see faces and other shapes more than others, but it’s normal regardless. It is fascinating though. Thanks for reading our article and sharing your thoughts. -Debbie

  7. Brenda Reply

    I’ve always seen faces on the front of cars. Some are happy and some are angry and some are just goofy. I also see faces in tiles, tree trunks and lots of places. Once in a while I can animals.. I wondered if everyone can see them but not everyone can…

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Brenda. You make a good point. Some people are more inclined to pareidolia than others. Seeing faces is most common. Seeing faces in vehicles reminds me of the Disney movie “Cars.” It is a fascinating phenomenon for sure. -Debbie

  8. Hayden Reply

    I see faces, but I also see patterns like patterns that are shapes and other kinds as well, like patterns in events or timelines.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks so much for commenting, Hayden. It’s interesting that you see patterns. It’s possible that you’re better at seeing patterns than most people. It’s also possible that the patterns and shapes are an example of apophenia. Pareidolia is a type of apophenia. It’s the act of perceiving patterns in random data. In either case, it’s a normal human tendency for our brains to want to look for patterns. Thanks for reading our post and for sharing your insights. -Debbie

  9. Fuzi Reply

    This is awesome! I have never heard of Pareidolia before, but ever since I was little in see faces in all kinds of things , carpeting, folds of curtains, granite…😁. I never knew this was a “thing”! Glad to know it, thank you!😁

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      You’re welcome! Glad you liked the article and that it was informative. Thanks for the feedback. -Greg

  10. Darren Lister Reply

    Thank God I’m not the only, doesn’t matter what I look at photos, curtains,trees anything ill see something human faces monsters witches letter’s numbers things i don’t know what they are until i look it up even cartoon characters some are sized proper but the monsters gargoyles types will be one BiG one with a whole bunch of little ones inside and alot of the time there’s two faces moulding into one but the one that really trips me out in a good way is a little girl her face is so clear and always smiling

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Hey Darren. Glad you found the pareidolia post helpful and interesting. Most people have never heard the word “pareidolia,” but when you explain what it is, they realize they have experienced it. It is a fascinating phenomenon. Thanks for your input. -Greg

  11. Cyndi Reply

    Last night I saw a cloud formation to my eastern side, quite a bit away, and it was all lit up from the sunset. In a micro-second, I saw a face, so I grabbed my camera and zoomed in! Shared it on Facebook with the tag: #pareidoliafan. Wish I could share it with you today.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for the comment. Faces are the most common manifestation of pareidolia. We’ll check the hashtags on Facebook and try to find your cloud picture.

  12. Rob Barron Reply

    If you see a natural rock which resembles a face, animal etc. then this has a name of its own: a mimetolith. It is still described as pareidolic and it’s funny how often two people see a mimetolith and describe it as two different things!

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Hi Rob, Thanks so much for sharing that info about mimetoliths. That’s fascinating. We didn’t know there was a special name for that kind of pareidolia. Great addition to the discussion. -Debbie

      1. Qhamani Tekana

        I’d be looking at totally anything and I’d think of a random image and somehow whatever i was looking at changes it’s form to make that image i was thinking of like wood floors I’d see faces there mainly cartoon ones very ugly and pretty ones but after a while they fade and i have to focus to see them again or i don’t even bother and i just see the faces

  13. Jeremy Reply

    I’ve always seen these types of things, but don’t they use these kind of pictures on tests as a precursor to dementia with Lewy bodies? I think 25% of dementia patients have this.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Jeremy. I hadn’t heard about the use of pareidolia tests in the diagnosis of dementia with Lewey bodies until I read your comment. I found one study from Chinese researchers in 2016, but I couldn’t find any others. Most of the other documentation I found seems to indicate it is a normal human tendency. It will be interesting to see if other researchers come to the same conclusion as that one Chinese study. Thanks again for sharing that information. -Greg

  14. Allan Reply

    i see other things than what you showed , for example the last picture of a piano , i see a dolphin swimming under the ice. i have seen images since i was six years old , and i am 61 now. I was looking to see if there was a name for this condition and stumbled upon your site , now opened my eyes to find out this is

    1. kelly morris Reply

      I don’t think this is related, but here it goes. In a dimly lit room, if I stare at a static object, say a hanging towel, I can see complex patterns form, sometimes in rapid succession. I can also see animals, sometimes I can even hold the image as it moves (a green alligator once) and I see complex equasions “quantum” equasions (always in red) as they move and fluctuate. As these images arrive, I can call them out, draw them with my finger, but as soon as I lose focus, they dissappear. I can also recall faces if I really concentrate. Its not scary, its kind of fun. I’m not a psyche patient, mentally very stable, except for this little quirk. I am also excellent at pattern recognition at all times. How can I manifest complex equasions I’ve never seen before? Or see peaceful tarantulas climbing up a towel? I keep practicing. Because I love this gift.

  15. Barbara Reply

    Hi,

    I have seen faces on surfaces since I was young. All the time. I see things faces mostly in things that are not shaped like a face, (that seems too obvious to me to be a disorder), or things that look like a face if you think about it (like an electric socket or cloud or iceberg). I see faces on a blank painted wall, rugs, plain weave fabrics, things that have even slight texture to them. It was mentioned that some people see faces when other do not, until the “face” is pointed out to those others who then say “oh yeah”. No one but me can see these faces. They think I am crazy. Sometimes I see dozens of faces on a plain painted wall that has even a slight texture to it. To me, this seems more extreme than what has been mentioned?

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Hi Barbara,
      That does sound like more extreme pareidolia than what was mentioned in our article. If it is bothering you or there are other symptoms, you could talk to a doctor about it. Hope that helps.

  16. David Zatowski Reply

    My mom and dad think i’m crazy and my brother and sister think i’m being silly, but i see faces and animals in almost every item. The craziest of all tho is that I see dragons in clouds, dirt, and water. I am 13 years old and I feel like I am the only person in my family that has this “ability” because no one ever mentions or talks about it when I do. Am I actually crazy?!

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Hi David, There are different degrees of pareidolia. If you’re concerned about the fact that you see faces of dragons and animals in almost every item when others do not, you may want to talk to your doctor. Pareidolia can be completely normal, but your doctor can help you determine if there’s anything else to be concerned about. There are medical conditions that might cause people to see faces and animals in almost every item. Either way, talking to your doctor might be helpful. Thanks for your interest. -Greg

  17. Amy Reply

    I am 33 years old and at 22 I experienced a loss that caused PTSD. Since then I have seen faces. I see them in tile, on the floor, in the ceiling, walls… everywhere. Sometimes they smile but mostly just scary faces. I have always thought it was linked to my ptsd. It always seems to be more apparent when I am having a “ptsd moment” or when I am stressed. I have talked to a therapist about it but she never mentioned that this can also just be normal. For the first time, tonight, after 10 years, I feel relieved. Thank you for this.

    1. penny spurgeon Reply

      Mine started when I was little. The first time I got locked in the box. Which is a different story. Always thought it was linked to the PTSD. It’s getting worse tho now. Over 45 years. The last few years tho I see letters like on a wall or a table…not just alphabet letters, but letters to me. Letters that say not nice things. I have literally wasted days staring at a wall trying to figure out what it says. One of the comments stayed that they wish they could draw what they see, me too. Cause if someone else could see what I’m talking about maybe they would stop telling me how crazy I am.

      1. wanderwoman

        Hi Penny, Thanks for your comment. Pareidolia can be completely normal, but it can also be a sign of something more serious – especially if you’re seeing messages that say unkind things and if you have a past history of trauma. It might be a good idea to consult a medical professional to see if this is something to be concerned about. I hope this is helpful, Debbie

  18. Eboni hood Reply

    I wanna share a photo with you to see if you can see a face, me and my son was doing a paint ball arts and crafts, well we just throwing the paint balls on the poster board and we went in the house to let it dry and came back out to see it and I couldn’t believe my eyes. So I would love to see if you could see anything.

  19. Vid Reply

    Hello,
    I am Vid and I’m 26 and I see patterns of repetitive numbers everywhere which I try to make sense of. Sometimes angel numbers work but sometimes I just think I’m crazy. Could u please help me out here.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Hi Vid, Thanks for reading our post. We’re not medical experts and therefore we aren’t qualified to answer your question about seeing repetitive numbers. Seeing specific patterns in random things can be normal, but there are times when it’s not. It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor if your worried about it. – Debbie and Greg

  20. Cass Reply

    What is also interesting is the way that, to a pareidoliac, certain coastlines can outline recognisable human figures. For instance, the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea together outline a figure I call “Beijing Granny” – a hunchbacked old lady with a big warty nose and topknot, facing to the right. And the Gulf of Bothnia together with the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Finland outline a lanky guitar-player, facing to the right, with the little Gulf of Riga outlining the head of his dog which is peering out from behind his legs. The 14th century Italian monk and cartographer Opicinus de Canistris saw the Mediterranean Sea as two devils whose bodies meet at the middle – the pointy-headed devil on the left is seen face-on and has Corsica and Sardinia for eyes; the flat-headed devil on the right is in left profile with Cyprus as his left eye, and the Aegean Sea as his very bushy beard. Opicinus also saw Spain and North Africa as two heads whispering conspiratorially to each other.

    The artist William Blake described his pareidolia in a poem: “For double the vision my eyes do see, And a double vision is always with me. With my inward eye ’tis an old man gray; with my outward, a thistle across my way.”

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for adding to the conversation. Your insights about coastlines reminded me of mountain ranges that are said to look like people. Sheep Mountain near Jackson, Wyoming is also known as Sleeping Indian, for example. People say it looks like an Indian lying on his back. That’s not the only one either. I love the quote by William Blake as well. Thanks again! -Debbie

  21. Leo Freeman Reply

    Most pareidolia relies on the object actually looking a bit like the face or whatever it appears to be. There has to be some feature in the object that corresponds to an eye, a mouth, etc. But if you stare at a TV screen displaying only random static, you start to see groups of dots spinning around like pinwheels, and eventually you can even see images emerging from the noise. Is this phenomenon also classed as pareidolia?

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Interesting question, Leo. The dictionary defines pareidolia as “the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern.” Seeing something specific in a cloud, an iceberg or random static on a TV all fits under pareidolia. It certainly is a fascinating phenomenon. Thanks for adding to the discussion. -Debbie and Greg

  22. Jennifer Reply

    Im so happy I found a name for this! Lol I just experienced an entire hour of clouds morphing from 1 picture into another & thought I was loosing it lol. I have many pictures but im not sure how to post them here but I would love to share them if possible.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Jennifer. Seeing pictures in clouds is more common than seeing them in icebergs. Pareidolia is definitely a fascinating phenomenon. Unfortunately, our website doesn’t seem to allow for attachments in the comments. Otherwise we’d love to see your cloud pictures. Thanks for reading our blog post and for taking the time to comment. -Debbie and Greg

  23. Richard Pinard Reply

    I see things in great detail! Not just faces, but sometimes a bust or an entire body! I have seen full scenes with extraordinary details. Yes, mostly faces, yet I will see 3 faces within a face. I am going to glance at the unfinished basement floor and tell you who it is. Susan Serandon believe it or not! My Psychiatrist asked if the condition causes fear or concern. I told him that I have no concern at all, and that it is quite entertaining at times.

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Richard. Pareidolia is a fascinating phenomenon and it is interesting how the ability to see specific pictures in random shapes varies between individuals. It’s good that your pareidolia doesn’t cause you fear or concern and that your psychiatrist isn’t concerned about it.

  24. Stephen Holmes Reply

    The term ‘pareidolia’ was only introduced into our vocabulary in the year 1866. Perhaps we ought to ask why that might be. Also there is no condition to account for the indiscriminate dismissal of every case in which an anomaly is noticed, and I refer more to the landscape than anything else.

  25. Susan Lane Reply

    Hi, OMG are we related? I have a couple questions, does your family tell you they need to order more gravel for the driveway? Are you also dyslexic, unorganized & a perfectionist all rolled in one? I am. I lost my best friend /sister July2,20 I started collecting heart shaped rocks everywhere I dug two holes to plant a couple of trees yesterday, yesterday & found approximately 140 heart shaped rocks! I find faces in wood grains, materials & rocks & my spinal X-Rays! I talk backwards at times & have trouble tracking to read.

  26. Susan Lane Reply

    In your Sphinx photo I say a few things. I see a nose & mustache behind the Spinx. I see a blue angel on the ground & combined with the other blue a Trojan horse. Added to the feet of the angel the mother Mary or woman & man standing. Above them A gladiator soldiers head. Minnie Pearl silhouette opposite end of Sphinx, then an eagles head & jumping rabbit. A balding George Washington & fluffy white bunny. A stealthy cougar, rat or Iguana & bank robber in a striped cap. Wizard standing by man & woman. Mermaids tail is angels arms. A skinny guy sideways. Indian woman with a feather in her hair out of Sphinx. Side of boy face above Eagle. A dove released from the angel.. top edge from mermaid to Sphinx a cartoon Dads head.

  27. Robert barnett Reply

    I see faces and dead people the dead people I have seen my whole life the faces started 13years ago I am going crazy I barley drive and don’t know what to do

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Robert. If you’re finding it hard to function, it’s a good idea to talk to a professional counselor. They may have some suggestions that can help you cope better. You mmight also talk to a family doctor. I hope these suggestions are helpful. All the best, Debbie

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