Purposeful pareidolia

By Phil Plait | May 28, 2008 12:10 pm

BABloggee Robbert Folmer (some NSFW language there) pointed out to me that Worth1000 has a Photoshop contest to make artificial pareidolia! Cool.

I think we should sit everyone down who sees Mary in an oil stain and Jesus in wood grain and see what they say about these.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pareidolia, Religion

Comments (26)

  1. IBY

    Wow! those are some cool photoshopping!

  2. Only a very few of those actually look like pareidolia. Most of them are too unambiguous; nice ‘shopping, in most cases, but utterly wrong for the category…

  3. Victor Bogado

    The problem with pareidolia is that only the faithful have their visions of their idols public, so all the Jesuses and crosses only appear where they should fit. I think that, maybe people should start looking for accidental appearance of crosses, Jesus and other religious icons in places where the people with bibles would not like to find them.

    Maybe an internet contest to find the best pareidolia in the worst place possible (in the religious point of view), maybe Jesus blesses an abortion clinic, or a sexual worker I don’t know… :-)

  4. kx

    I bet it won’t take long until some of those pictures resurface as real on some dubious intertube pages…

  5. TDL

    Who needs Photoshop. The real thing is more fun!!!


  6. Celtic_Evolution

    @ wintermute

    I see what you’re saying… most of these are way too obvious to really be considered what I would call pareidolia. Like the dogs in the clouds running behind the running dog… that doesn’t just “seem to resemble” dogs in clouds… those are unmistakably dogs in clouds… and would frankly freak out even the most doubting of skeptics if seen as depicted. Many of these are much the same.

    Except the “Jesus in the Hashbrowns” one… that was pretty good pareidolia… :)

  7. Navneeth

    Do I see Phil Plait in this one?


    I think he’s trying to send a message to all of us. :)

  8. Hi Phil,
    Down here in Fanta se NM we get our share of apparitions, why we even have a restaurant or two that came about as a result of feeding the faithful who would pilgrim to these miraculous events/sightings/Stains. Were mostly catholic, here in Northern New Mexico, for what thats worth? Well an Anglo dude named Peter Aschwanden, an illustrator by trade had heard one two many yarns about the particular piety of a pool of goo or whatever and got to fiddlin with his wife’s bread board…the one she would flatten tortillas on…and whittled out and apparition of Billy the Kid so that each tortilla hence would darken out a likeness of The Kid onto the tortilla for butter or chile or honey or whatever was for that particular repast… It actually became so popular, that Peter retired it to frame on the wall so Billy wouldn’t be worn off by hunger.

    Allthebest Winslow

  9. Guy Mac

    What about the poster for Bill Maher’s Religulous? Does that count?

  10. I agree that the majority of those were too explicit. Some, OTOH, were too vague. Did anyone see what was supposed to be in “Sleeping Mountain” (the last one), or the mountain stream a few up? The Marilyn Monroe was interesting, but it was more of a political statement (see Salvador Dali’s “Marilyn” for a real MM pareidolia).

    I agree with the winner (petal embryo), but I also really liked the girl in the pouring wine.

    – Jack

  11. nih

    If you deliberately edit Jesus into a Where’s Waldo, is it the mysterious nature of God working through you? Or just an attempt at statistical improvement by Waldo?

    Is Waldo God?

  12. Michael Lonergan

    Christians: Worshipping Zombie images on Toast for 200 Years!

  13. “Is Waldo God?”

    That’s gotta be worth a page in somebody’s book!

    (yes, that’s from TNG)

  14. BoC

    Be sure to check out the past Pareidolia contests; near the top right of the page is a drop down box that says ‘view related contests’.

    (I’m a member at Worth1000, but I’ve done precious little there lately. I’ve kinda moved on the the text contests, but I’ll have to get back to the Photoshop section.)

  15. Dallas

    I found this pareidolia while on ebay, which is really really ironic considering the ending.

    “Likeness of Jesus found on a fish bone”

    As a collector of skulls myself, I’ve got to say, this is retarded. Even my bird skulls have this feature… it’s not special.

  16. Tom

    @Jack Hagerty:

    All of the important stuff is in bright white.

    Sleeping Mountain is a person lying down on his right side, facing the camera. The bright white slope that runs diagonally from the center towards the upper-right is the arm of the sleeper. The half-head is above that arm, lying on the red pillow.

    By ‘Mountain Stream’, do you mean ‘Weird Forest’? If so,…
    There’s a face in the green moss just up and right of center.
    There’s a face in the grey stone (BIG nose) immediately up and right of THAT one.
    There are two faces (one looks like a lions head) in the grey stone in the right center.

  17. Crux Australis

    I agree; most of those are way too “realistic”, but extremely clever ‘shopping nonetheless! I sure couldn’t do any better. What’s with all the whales, though?

  18. Crux Australis

    Dallas: What a pair of losers in that video. Talk about gullible. “I feel all sorts of strange and wonderful emotions even now”? I’ll have what he’s smoking.

  19. Bill

    This has to be the best image worship shot ever, Jesus spotted on a dog’s butt.


  20. A few good ‘shops. The elephant mountain was one of my favs.

    @Bill & Victor:

    I’ll start checking my droppings for signs of Jesus, from this day on!

  21. Some excellent work there, but I have to say that I think some of the contributors could do with spending a little less time “photoshopping” and more time brushing up on their English skills!

  22. john wagoner

    I never see Mary. I always see a vagina. It looks like the line drawings one sees in anatomical drawings. With shading, of course. Pointing this out has stopped many a true “seer” from bothering me about it a second time!

  23. Kind readers,

    Pareidolia…. is more complete our knowledge….

    Optical Illusion…

    Excerpt copy written by Leonardo da Vinci. “.. on visual phenomena Pareidolia in the clouds .. in the scrub on walls…

    I read 25 years ago

    Posted by martino at 2:36 PM 0 comments http://www.psychokinesis.it
    Saturday, May 17, 2008
    Perception of images: Pareidolia formed randomly, with the images Psychokinesis PK. created deliberately, intentionally… Comparison

    Accidental face formed in the pavement not intentional image… image pareidolia, subliminal… is not an image Psicocinesi PK.

    Accidental face formed in the pavement not intentional image… image pareidolia, subliminal… is not an image Psicocinesi PK.

    * * *

    “Look” Eyes evil … clouds created in the image is Psychokinesis PK., I saw formed eyes, I could not photograph the entire face because of the speed of the build is not an image Pareidolia is not formed randomly……

    Image Psychokinesis is desired bad built ..despite this is not an ‘image Pareidolia is not random….- negative n° 12

    Intentional faces created durations the sperimentali..positive Test Psychokinesis PK. created in clouds…

    “Portrait “Psychokinesis PK.. image created in clouds ..negative n° 8

    “Portrait “Psychokinesis PK.. image created in clouds ..negative n° 10

    Masculine portrait created in the varnish …cm. 70 x 50

    Masculine portrait created in clouds…negative n° 24

    “Look ” Masculine face image created in flake cloud….

    “Look” Psychokinesis images created in flake cloud” ….- negative n°6

    Established before the PSYCHOKINESIS TEST in the flake cloud in which the psychokinesis pk. image it will have to be created. rendering visible the collision of the psychokinesis pk. creative action.

    We observe that the pk. create eyes in the flake cloud are two expressive hole fundamental for the portrait.

    The flake cloud close not established for the pk.test remained unchanged ( it is not hole or other on) the flake cloud is not be hit from the psychokinesis pk. creative action..

    We observe: 2 heads overlapping 4 eyes

    Dogs…Two dogs….Two roads….Two destinies…

    14 * ” Lola” Tamino’s friend….

    Featured image

    ” Lola” dog female… the friend of Tamino… companion of long the solitary days to the garden public… The magic flute ….musician Amadeus Mozart…imagine creat
    ed in clouds… negative n° 2

    “Look”… sad eyes. sick…of the stray dog… forgot…

    “Look”… sad eyes…sick… of the stray dog… forgot…created in clouds….negative n° 22


  24. And this one is telling us that God wants us to eat, um…


  25. ower coto

    your face made of rocks?
    from earth or from mars???


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar