Enter the Matrix: Pareidolia

by Matt Shamblin

Pareidolia a.k.a. “Matrixing” is a psychological phenomenon where the brain receives a random stimulus and is interpreted as something familiar. A good example is the famous “Horse Head Nebula” found in the constellation Orion.

Carl Sagan once said that this is an evolutionary byproduct of our species. We are “hard-wired” from birth to be able to identify a human face. This allows us to interpolate random patterns as being identifiable. Much like an ink blot test. This gives us the advantage to be able to assess threats in split seconds and act accordingly.

In 2009 a magnetoencephalography study found that objects incidentally perceived as faces evoke an early (165 ms) activation in the ventral fusiform cortex, at a time and location similar to that evoked by faces, whereas other common objects do not evoke such activation. This activation is similar to a slightly earlier peak at 130 ms seen for images of real faces. The authors suggest that face perception evoked by face-like objects is a relatively early process, and not a late cognitive reinterpretation phenomenon.

This isn’t to say that all paranormal evidence is a result of pareidolia. But it should make you have a more open mind when you’re sifting through the evidence. You have to ask yourself is this pareidolia or am I seeing the real deal? There needs to be consistent and corroborating data that says you’re seeing what you think you’re seeing. After all like Sigmund said sometimes  a cigar is just a cigar.


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