Grow a paireidolia

By Phil Plait | November 1, 2011 10:00 am

I believe without reservation that this may be the greatest instance of pareidolia of all time: an ultrasound of a man experiencing epididymo-orchitis, or pain and swelling of a testicle:

Having suffered through a similar (if less traumatic) version of this, may I add that the expression on the man’s, um, "face" is exquisitely accurate.

Tip o’ the codpiece to my Hive Overmind co-blogger Ed Yong on Google+. Original image: Elsevier, Inc.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor, Pareidolia, Pretty pictures

Comments (44)

Links to this Post

  1. Paireidolia of the Day - The Daily What | November 1, 2011
  1. Timmy

    “Having suffered through a similar (if less traumatic) version ”
    That was very nonchalant how you just threw that out there… But I’m afraid to ask… was it maybe Hubble-related? Paint-ball accident?

  2. Marcel

    Oh poor guy…looks like he´s suffering 😛

    I wonder what people would do if it had been a “virgin mary” instead of a guys face…

  3. Never understood how people using ultrasounds can see so much…

  4. The title’s cracking me up.

  5. Bette Noir

    I think we found the problem…

  6. chris j.
  7. Jody

    Looks like the Yuri Gagarin film..

  8. Justin

    How about the classic by your friends over at NCBI-ROFL of a haunted scrotum?
    “On CT scanning of the abdomen and pelvis, the right testis was not identified but the left side of the scrotum seemed to be occupied by a screaming ghost-like apparition (Figure 1).”

  9. Fr33think3r

    Mother Teresa! It’s a miracle!

  10. Peptron

    It looks like an astronaut looking up to me.

  11. Bob


    “My God! It’s full of stars!”

  12. reidh

    Comet, Asteroid, whats the difference?

  13. Joseph G

    @#1 Timmy: That was very nonchalant how you just threw that out there… But I’m afraid to ask… was it maybe Hubble-related? Paint-ball accident?

    I second that, Phil :) I know you’re probably reluctant to discuss your harbls in public, but now we’re curious. Of course, I’m sure my imagination is a lot more colorful then reality (I’m picturing an America’s Funniest Home Videos-esque incident involving an “unscheduled” ground test deployment of a solar panel or something) 😀

    Actually, are there any columns/essays/books where you go into more detail of your involvement with Hubble, Phil? It sounds absolutely fascinating. And it’d probably disabuse me of my “hypothesis” (I know that very few non-technicians were probably allowed to get near the Hubble on the ground, I’m just goofing around)

  14. Joseph G

    @4 Bette Noir: “Well, the good news is, that screaming is perfectly normal under the circumstances. The bad news is, it’s not coming from your mouth.”

    I smell a body-horror movie script 😀

  15. Jared D white
  16. If only there was a beard-shaped cyst and a worm that looked like a crown of thorns, then this would be huge news! The man could claim he had Jesus in his sac!

  17. JohnK

    Just reading about epididymo-orchitis gave me that face.

  18. katwagner

    I can’t stop laughing and I have so many chores to do. Aaand what do I tell my husband when he asks what is wrong with me?

  19. This is too funny, I wonder who was the first person to put that face after seeing the face on the guy’s testicles. Must to have been hilarious! a fractal face expression. HAHAHA!

  20. Joseph G

    @20 katwagner: Lie. Definitely lie. Say you’re laughing at lolcats. The last thing you want is for him to get the idea that you find injured testicles hilarious 😉

  21. Wayne Robinson

    It’s pretty uncanny how humans are adept at seeing faces where they don’t exist. When I was a pathologist (I’m retired now) I used to always look at the gallstones in gallbladders, and once I came across a single round gallstone with three dark spots in a triangle, and everyone I showed the gallstone to immediately said ‘it’s a face’ just on the basis of the gallstone being round and having three dots roughly in the right position for eyes and a mouth.

  22. Hey, I suffered that, too. I saw the images in real time, but there was no face in my case! :(
    It´s a bit painful, I don’t recommend it to anyone…

  23. Gary Ansorge

    Testicular inflammation,,,boy, do I remember mine,,,taught me not to lift heavy objects with a full bladder,,,(under those conditions, urine can be forced into the testicle. Unsightly and scary)

    Gary 7

  24. Gina Sanders

    It’s the face of Boe!! The doctor *is* the real god. I’ve been saying that for years. :-)

  25. ceramicfundamentalist

    so…any idea how the image relates to the, er, anatomy?

  26. Larry M
  27. Joseph G

    @25 Gary: OUCH. I… er… well, I guess at least I learned something.

  28. Jess Tauber

    Its the whole intra-urethral parturition that freaks me out, boy. I hope they give the poor guy whatever counts as the equivalent of an epidural…

  29. DMT

    I agree with Jody – first thing I saw was Yuri Gagarin – maybe a charcoal sketch of him done by Edvard Munch.

  30. eddie

    I, too, have suffered from that condition. The only way I can think of to describe it is having a ultra-sensitive 16-lb. bowling ball hanging down there, causing major pain with the slightest movement. That’s what it feels like. It really is no fun.

  31. kevin

    I see two faces superimposed. One is side profile, the other is from below the face, looking up.

  32. ghgh

    I see three. Two face left, one right.

  33. Bubba

    So that’s why we call them “the boys.”

  34. Gary Ansorge

    29. Joseph G

    What I learned was, when loading or un-loading a moving truck,,,pee first,,,

    Our bio-mechanics are a classic example of evolution in action, in that it shows a complete lack of anticipation of consequences. Anyone who would worship a god (designer) with such bad engineering sense deserves what they get.

    Gary 7

  35. Marco

    Obviously it can only be a homunculus. Teach the controversy and let the kids decide!

  36. Zaerion

    i’ve seen that face somewhere else… hrm…

  37. Joseph G

    @36 Gary: I am making a mental note in extremely large, firm letters. Seriously, I think I broke my mental pencil point pressing too hard.

  38. Kristine

    Oh wow, that’s a really good pun! I’ve seen this story on quite a few blogs but your title is the only one that made me actually laugh out loud 😀

  39. VinceRN

    The guy had it removed, it was benign. Imagine having to make that decision. Most of us have grown rather attached to those.

  40. Gary Ansorge

    39. Joseph G

    ,,,gotta watch those “pencil points”. They’re Soo fragile,,,

    Gary 7

  41. icemith

    I think there is too MUCH lead in the pencil!


  42. Anchor

    Shake ‘n bake anything, from coffee grounds to cookie batter, and voila: OH! There is something ELSE there!!!!!!!!

    No, there isn’t.

    There’s something behind the eye though. It’s good at finding familiar patterns. Knowing this is one thing. Getting a c0nstant dose of examples of how good it is at doing it is also tiresome in the extreme.


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