Friday, March 15, 2013

Pareidolia or an Angel?

I normally don’t write about current events but this story caught my eye. On Wednesday of this week when the new pope was selected a group of citizens in South Florida took a most unusual photograph after his name was announced. 

This photo depicts a cloud formation that looks very much like an angel. These faithful Catholics feel that this formation is indeed an angel and that it is a clear sign of God’s approval for this new pope.

This is the photograph that is being talked about:

I must admit this pink hued cloud formation does indeed look like an angel. One news outlet consulted an expert and he states this formation is either a cirrus cloud or a “ virga remnant from an aircraft contrail”. 

I am not Catholic but I love the fact this new pope named himself after St. Francis of Assisi—the patron saint of animals. I also like the fact that this new pope is known for his charity toward the poor. So I am with the side that state this is a sign of approval.

Actually, the real reason this photograph initially caught my attention is the fact that it is a good example of “pareidolia”. I have talked about this concept in two other posts in the past. Pareidolia is a Greek word meaning, “wrong shape”. 

Humans often make sense of unknown patterns they see by assigning them known shapes—such as a human face or form. Seeing the “man in the moon” is a classic example of this.

Like I have stated in past posts--Ghost hunters, should be aware of this pareidolia phenomenon. For what people see in photographs as possible ghosts might just be their brains making sense of an unknown pattern.

No comments: