Pareidolia is the inborn, hard-wired tendency to make sense out of abstract images such as cloud formations, tea leaves and Rorschach Tests. There is experimental evidence that the brain is quite active in projecting its expectations on nebulous visual fields and random conglomerations of shapes and objects. In particular, we see faces in all manner of things, from cars to buttons. This effect is of utmost importance in the use of masks, and explains why found objects can make wonderful puppets.

Researchers at the University of Montreal have "found that pareidolic perceptions arise more often and more rapidly in highly creative individuals." (

A related, more general affect is called apophenia, and concerns the tendency to ascribe meaning to random information. As such, it can be a trigger for false conspiracy theories.

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