Worst. Paraeidolia. Evah.

By Phil Plait | January 9, 2007 7:56 pm

Australia is buzzing because some paint has eroded on a railway platform. Why? Because some people claim it looks like Jesus!

Even seeing a face in that is a bit of a stretch. But Jesus? C’mon! I mean, maybe there’s a face, and I see a hint of a beard… hey, wait a sec. I know who it really is. And you should definitely kneel before him!

Tip of the Superman cape to the skeptical Richard Saunders.

P.S. More AAS blogging coming up. I was pretty ill with a virus, but I’m all better now!


Comments (29)

  1. Nick

    Looks to me more like Wolverine in the X-Men movies (with the sideburns)

  2. Seamyst

    Looks to ME like a deer head with antlers, facing somewhat towards the right.

    Oh! And I just had one of those perception-shifts and saw how they might kinda sorta see it as Jesus! It’s not his face, it’s the upper half of his body. Towards the top of the patch, where it divides into three spiky areas, the middle part is his head and the parts on either side are his upraised arms. (Or a pitchfork.) His body, in a white robe, trails off shortly below his waist.

    Looking at it that way, it STILL doesn’t look like Jesus. Now it looks more like one of the Wraith Kings in Fellowship of the Ring, at Weathertop, when Frodo slipped on the Ring. With a nice big crown.

  3. ..but how does anyone know if it looks like Jesus, if nobody knows what Jesus actually looked like..?

  4. It looks like a drawing of my dad that I made in first grade.

  5. You know, if there was such an entity as Jesus Christ and the evangelical zealots were right all along about the second coming thing…?

    I hope he’s a 6’7″ black man who looks like Dennis Rodman (with the pink hair. And nose ring.). It would make the whole burning in a lake of fire much more tolerable.

  6. TheBlackCat

    Looks to me more like an unlucky victim of a tripod from the original War of the Worlds movie.

  7. Christian Burnham

    No- it’s clearly the second coming of Steve Jobs.

    Good to hear you’ve beaten your virus into submission. (I don’t get viruses being a Mac user and all.)

    BTW, there’s one man who will never kneel before that portrait.

  8. Zachary Kessin

    And I for one welcome Our new somewhat non descript paint smudge jesus overlords! (And I’m jewish!)

  9. Mark Hansen

    The image that some people see is based on a occidental artistic version of Jesus. This is the image they grew up with; they see what (to them) looks to be an amazing resemblance and hey presto! it IS Jesus!! Never mind that, historically, Jesus probably would have had a distinct Middle-Eastern appearance!
    As if we don’t get enough weirdo’s hanging around train stations any other time, now we’re getting religious zealots.

  10. Grand Lunar

    I’m willing to bet that someone altered at least one part of that paint to look like a face.

    BTW Phil, are you sure it’s not really Non? :)

  11. Melusine

    Looks to me like some weird-looking dude with a pipe coming out of his mouth. Did Jesus smoke a pipe? It also reminds me of the angel faces with wings on old gravestones except that these look like huge bat wings. It doesn’t even look like the stereotypical picture of Jesus. With the V of black hair on its forehead, I say it’s Dracula smoking a pipe.

  12. phil

    Looks like Jesus holding out his hands in front of him, warning people to stop. Maybe he’s about to be run over by a train?

  13. The black smears to the left really look like a big-nosed man wearing sunglasses and a dark turtleneck.

  14. Dunc

    You know what? I’m getting really, really tempted to make a bunch of pancakes, pick one that doesn’t appear to contain anything even vaguely like a face, proclaim it on the web as an image of Jesus, and see how many people agree… Then sell it on eBay.

  15. ThePolynomial
  16. hey man
  17. Gary Ansorge

    Nah, it’s just me and Jerry Garcia sharing a bowl,,,

    GAry 7

  18. Michelle

    You know, I already had someone tell me that if you see someone else than Jesus or Mary in one of these things, it’s just because you lack faith.

    I don’t know, Jesus must not be so happy to appear in dirt like that to them…

  19. JustAl

    Are you sure that’s his hair? It looks like Anton LaVey with his skullcap. And we have photographic evidence of what he looked like…

    (Sorry, the devil made me say it…)

  20. Funny, I see some Japanese Ultraman style kind of superhero. With big eyebrows.

    Either that, or the fembot from Metropolis before she got skin.

  21. J Pola

    Everyone knows that under the regime of Zod, Lex Luthor is ruler of Australia.

  22. Keerax

    You’re all wrong. It’s so obviously a spanish conquistador. ūüėČ

  23. DennyMo

    According to NPR, the Sunnis in Iraq were calling each other telling them to go look at the moon over the weekend, because Saddam Hussein’s image was appearing there. See, Christians aren’t the only goofy paraeidoliaists out there…

  24. Looks more like Che to me.

  25. Troy

    Looks to me like Asmodeus (please refer to your Monster Manual under “Devil”), ruler of the 9th plane of Hell, a.k.a. “The Devil”. Spanish conquistador I like as well :-).

  26. G Birch

    Michelle said,
    “You know, I already had someone tell me that if you see someone else than Jesus or Mary in one of these things, it√Ę‚ā¨‚ĄĘs just because you lack faith.”

    That is exactly right. You do not have “faith” if you do not suspend rational thought. Dictionary dot com lists one of the definitions of faith as “belief that is not based on proof” No matter how much evidence there is that shows all of these imaginary faces are simply a random pattern, certain people are going to believe it is a holy messiah or saint. Its just like a cloud in the sky that looks like a house, or a mountain on another planet that looks like a face. Its called personification, and it is a normal human trait.

    What I don’t understand is why/how people are raised to believe that things like this must be the virgin Mary or Jesus. I grew up Christian, but I must have slept that day in bible class.

    Speaking of, there’s a video story on CNN’s website about a knotty growth on a tree in Florida looks like the face of Jesus. While I do agree that it does (sort of) look like it has eyes and a nose and maybe a beard, I just can’t see how it must be divine intervention. Its just a growth.


    From the video, a man says,
    “Jesus don’t pop up like that. If you know the word of Jesus and believe in Jesus, then there you go. There’s proof. He does exist.”
    How can you argue with logic like that?!?

  27. Trevor Wood

    Must admit we have a few crazies down under but as for Australia abuzz – this website was the first and only reference I’ve seen! Maybe tonight’s national news? Guess we have our quiet news days too!

  28. icemith

    I’m sad to say it was on the TV news a few days ago. That I saw, but did not notice any other mention elsewhere and to be frank, promptly forgot about it.

    I am surprised that it rated a mention here though.


  29. BenM

    I’d like to nominate a new contender for the title Worst Paraeidolia Evah. People in Morton Texas see the Virgin Mary in an icicle formation in a grocery store freezer.

    It looks like an icicle stalagmite to me.



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