I don’t see dead people. But I do see faces. In things. Clouds look like my old latin teacher, plugs looking like startled robots. I thought this was normal. Obviously I don’t ever see Jesus. That would be crazy.
But a story on The Science of Us says that there is a name for the ‘tendency’, (I would prefer ‘ability’) to spot hidden faces in random patterns: Pareidolia. Some new research, fresh out of Japan, suggests that seeing faces is a sign of neurosis. Are you kidding? Why would imagining tiny faces staring out at you from wallpaper, a crumpled shirt or a wheat field be remotely neurotic? What can they possibly mean? It’s a GIFT.
Some lame ass scientists in Tokyo assessed the moods and personalities of a bunch of volunteers before showing them a sheet of paper flecked with random dots, asking them what, if any, shapes they saw. SPOILER ALERT: The researchers found that people who scored higher in neuroticism, and those who were in negative moods, were more likely to have found faces in the dots.
The theory put forward is that pareidolia is likely an evolutionary tick: Nerves permanently on high alert for threats, which may mean that you (sorry not you, me) see danger where it actually isn’t. Can you see a face in that dense jungle scape? Is it a tiger? Is it a sniper? Is it your mother? You get the drift.
Well yes I might be on high alert – but who isn’t as Voldermort gathers his forces? Neurotic? Pah. Just because they are not out to get you doesn’t mean they are not out to get you. Secretly. I see you. I do. In my toast.