Careidolia

By Phil Plait | November 6, 2009 10:30 am

OK, I know that some people see the face of their religious icons in random things. I’ve written about this a zillion times. And I know that sometimes it’s just pareidolia, our tendency to see faces in random objects. And I know that people will think it’s a miracle, when really it’s the end-product of thousands of generations of the evolution of our pattern-seeking abilities.

truck_jesusBut then there’s stuff like this: a guy is "clueless" about how the face of Jesus appeared on his truck window, and why it persists day after day.

Oh, I have a clue. It’s clearly not random, which means it’s either a) divine, or 2) drawn on by someone. My conclusion that it’s (2) comes from having a daughter who would take her finger and draw her name in the misty back window of my car when she was younger. And also doing it myself when I was a kid. And seeing eighty bazillion examples of this as a human living in America.

So I think someone drew it on the window. The oil from their finger doesn’t wash off with water, so every morning the picture reappears with the advent (advent! Haha! A little funny for the upcoming season) on the morning dew.

But, of course, that’s just me. When I hear hoofbeats I think horses, not zebras. And since I don’t live near a zoo or in the African plains, I’m guessing what we have here is a horse-drawn carriage.

Um. Well. You know what I mean.

Picture credit: (AP Photo/Johnson City Press, Lee Talbert)

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Pareidolia, Religion, Skepticism

Comments (36)

  1. You mean Jeebus isn’t sitting in the truck waiting for a ride?

  2. The story could be summed up entirely by: “guy is “clueless”" and just end it at that.

  3. At least they did not just write “wash me”.

  4. Jay

    Heh. The phrase “United ’99 #8 Rocks” appears on the rear window of my car on chilly mornings. I’m fairly sure I know how that got there.

    I find it amusing and relevant that the images of Jesus that appear on car windows and in potato chips and the like always look like a fairly generic European male with long hair and a neatly trimmed beard, and not much like you’d expect a 1st century Jewish man to look.

  5. TigerHunter

    I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean. =(

  6. DaveS

    Whomever made that finger drawing is a better artist than I. Nicely done.

  7. I remember a trick I read in a ‘magic for kids’ book I read years ago. Use soap (dish soap, bar soap, etc) to draw a design on a window, lightly enough that it’s not easily visible. When you breathe on it, the widow fogs up and the design will ‘magically’ appear. Good for those ‘is this the number you’re thinking of’ tricks.

  8. Thomas Siefert

    When I hear hoofbeats I think horses, not zebras.

    I think coconut shells….

  9. LMR

    I remember many years ago, as a joke I encouraged the younger brother of a friend of mine to use RainX (anti-fog coating liquid) to write a … lets just say “less than polite” … word in the back window of his brother’s (my buddy’s) car.

    The stuff goes on completely clear (like the soap trick from post #7). A couple days later when the weather was cooler, he was heading home and this word started to appear in his back window as a ‘void’ in the fog.

  10. I just know there’s someone out there right now who’s making a Darwin fish stencil…

  11. Why the automatic assumption that it’s a picture of Jesus? It could be any man with long hair and a beard. Looking at it closely, I’m thinking it’s a picture of Jeff Lebowski. It’s probably just a sign that The Dude wants his rug cleaned.

    It really tied the room together.

  12. Sir Eccles

    When I hear hoofbeats I think horses, not zebras.

    I think coconut shells….

    With perhaps a string tied to them so a couple of swallows could carry them?

  13. Kurt_eh

    Thomas/Eccles

    Were the shells brought by African or Europen swallows?

  14. Thomas Siefert

    Were the shells brought by African or Europen swallows?

    I don’t know…. AAAAAARRRGGHHH!!!!!

  15. Reminds me of the bumper sticker: God is my co-pilot.

    I’ve considered an additional sticker to add to it: but Satan is navigating.

    J/P=?

  16. kevbo

    Looks like Charles Manson to me…

  17. John Swindle

    Maybe we shouldn’t be too hard on Mr. Stevens. He isn’t attributing the portrait to anything supernatural, but rather, seems to think it’s a cool mystery. I think we all know how the news media like to emphasize trivial (or even non-existent) parts of a story in order to sell their stuff. If anyone is up for ridicule, I think it’s The Associated Press.

    Okay, gouge him a little for jumping to the conclusion that a picture of any random guy with a beard has gotta be Jebus. But the A.P. may have made that up, too.

  18. Bigfoot

    It’s called Windex! Use some, and join the truly enlightened!

  19. @John Paradox,

    God is my co-pilot but Satan is in charge of the in-flight entertainment? ;-)

  20. JupiterIsBig

    @4 Jay and @11 Toasterhead +1
    It’s a strange god who changes the race of his only son !
    Oh there I go anthropomorphising again – God’s Prophet should be a meatball !

    It looks like a surfer I know.
    At least he doesn’t have his football gear on !

  21. Wait, wait, i know what this is.
    Hold your breath:

    “Deus ad machina”

    bwaaaahaaaahaaa

  22. how

    Another thing: the guy claims that he won’t be washing his vehicle for a while; it wouldn’t really matter, because the image was drawn on the INSIDE of the window.

  23. Gary Ansorge

    I always thought the Dead lyric “,,,I may be going to hell in a bucket babe, but at least I’m enjoying the ride,,,” would have made a good bumper sticker. Now I’m thinking that and the soap trick would be really disconcerting to someone following me, on a cold day.

    Gary 7

  24. Jason A.

    It really is a nice drawing though.

  25. Joe Bogus

    @JP: No, Satan is my bombardier. I’ve got Polaris navigating. Waist, turret and tail gunners are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Satan convinced them to leave the horses behind. No co-pilot — couldn’t find anyone to take this ride with me.

  26. I live in Johnson City and saw this headline in the local paper (front page!). Thank you for addressing it.

    We also had a “manifestation” of Mary at the catholic church here years ago. She “appeared” as condensation on a window.

  27. Wayne on the plains

    I recall an old cartoon with a cop talking to a lady in a car. “I understand that God is your co-pilot, ma’am, but that still doesn’t qualify you to drive in the HOV lane.”

  28. Amenhotepstein

    That ain’t Jesus, y’all, it’s Duane Allman!

    RIP Duane…

  29. I recall an old cartoon with a cop talking to a lady in a car. “I understand that God is your co-pilot, ma’am, but that still doesn’t qualify you to drive in the HOV lane.”
    Sorry… forgot to say great post – can’t wait to read your next one!

  30. God was my co-pilot but we crashed in the mountains so I ate him.

  31. Donovan

    I think it was an old decal of of the Xian Zombie Lord that was removed, possibly, before this man purchased a used truck. The residue from the sticker, or the removal of some of the glass’s protective coating by the adhesive, left this image. I’ll give him the credit of being that stupid and credulous rather than assume he’s a liar, since people of this sort seem to think being stupid and credulous are positive attributes.

    I wonder if this man’s faith is strong enough to ask for a lab to test the glass? HA! Nobody’s faith is ever THAT strong. It’s much easier to post the picture on the web, claim miracle, and sigh with relief as the ignorant cover you with “argumentum ad populam.”

  32. 30. Shane Says:

    God was my co-pilot but we crashed in the mountains so I ate him.

    Was that in the Andes?

    Thanks to the others who came up with their own variations….

    J/P=?

  33. Howard

    I think that is John Lennon in the window. Maybe he is announcing a Come Back [From The Dead] Tour.

  34. 11. toasterhead Says: “Why the automatic assumption that it’s a picture of Jesus? It could be any man with long hair and a beard.”

    I thought it was the Zig-Zag guy.

    - Jack

  35. Markle

    Kurt_eh Says:
    November 6th, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Thomas/Eccles

    Were the shells brought by African or Europen swallows?

    Whatever they were, they were definitely laden, so you have to include that in your speed calculations.

  36. 1234

    I’m with Jack. I immediately thought Zig Zag.

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