By Phil Plait | May 23, 2012 10:41 am

Via my pal Miss Cellania (possibly not her real name) at Neatorama, I saw this short cat video which is really pretty funny:

Ha! This is a great example of audio pareidolia; hearing (instead of seeing, as it’s usually done) some recognizable pattern in a completely unrelated series of noises. It helps a lot if you’re cued in some way to hear it with subtitles. In this case the title of the Neatorama post had me listening for the words "I don’t want to", but I think I would’ve heard it anyway.

But I wonder: if they were going to a dispensary and asked the cat what they were getting, would you hear "marijuana"?

Check out the posts below for more of this sort of thing. The first one still makes me laugh.

Related Posts:

It’s Caturday? NONONONO.
Ba? Fa!
The hallmark of a black hole
Carmina Buraneidolia

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Caturday, Humor, Pareidolia

Comments (20)

  1. Thanks for the Related Posts. I was looking for the Carmina Buraneidolia post the other day!

  2. Kelly

    Do you mean to tell me that Mishka is not actually saying I love you??? It’s just “audio pareidolia”? Sometimes I don’t like science. ūüėČ

  3. Chris

    Caturaday on a Wednesday? My life does not make sense.

  4. Das Boese

    I think I remember reading somewhere that cats actually do imitate human speech patterns, or at least make specific noises for interaction with humans.

  5. terryp

    caging and teasing a cat is “really pretty funny”?

  6. Sadly, it seems that the Carmina Buraneidolia video you embedded has been destroyed by copyright idiocy. :(

    Looks like it’s still available here, though:

  7. sophia8

    Terryp @5: She’s not teasing the cat. She’s put it in a travel cage to take it somewhere and she’s talking to it, soothing it. Just like you’d do with a small toddler who’s unhappy with being strapped into a car seat.
    In fact, just watch a parent with a baby sometime – they talk exactly that way, the parent saying the same thing several times and the baby repeating it back to them.

  8. Dennis

    I think the cat must be the reincarnation of John Belushi, as I clearly hear it saying “Elwood! Elwood!”
    (tell me you don’t hear the same after reading this!)

    @Terryp & @sophia8
    She’s not just taking it “somewhere” she’s taking it to the vet – presumably for the cat’s benefit, and not just to tease it – although I suppose it’s possible the owner could be that cruel…

  9. Blargh

    What’s that, kitty? Something about “Sweet Satan” and a toolshed?

  10. When my stomach rumbles it distinctly says “Elwood”. As for the cat, it sounds like it’s saying “I no wanna” to me. It doesn’t look too happy either.

  11. Damon

    It’s not a real example of pareidolia because humans can’t speak cat. If it were a human speaking and we heard them say something other than what they actually said, then it would be pareidolia because humans regularly speak the same languages. If you had another cat watch this video I’m sure they would pick up on what the poor guy was actually saying. Then maybe the cat would notice anomalies.

    Likewise, EVPs and pyramids on the Moon and Mars are not pareidolia because fully formed sentences and three-sided structures do not regularly appear in nature, last time I checked. The wind has not read Tolstoy or Artaud, and geology does not tailor mountains for the convenience of human settlement.

    I assume this is another attempt by Phil to discredit the work of EVP specialists and disavow the hard word of JPL’s airbrush department. Cute, but mislead as usual. There are forces beyond our understand not yet explainable by science, whether he is man enough to admit it or not. But leave that stuff to the people who study it for a living, you dig? :]

    Cute video though! Cats! I’m sure your regular readers will gobble it up. Thank you for staying on topic by posting some actual astronomy stuff later on in the day!

  12. Chris A.

    Umm…no. I don’t know where you got your definition of pareidolia, but apparently not in this universe. Pareidolia is the perception of non-randomness in randomness or low-level signal. The fact that the cat makes non-English sounds which we humans perceive as English is a perfectly good example, since “cat language” does not constitute “signal” in English. It would be just as good an example if you found a string of syllables that resembled a phase in English while listening to a recording of someone speaking Farsi.

    As for your supposed “fully formed (whatever that means) sentences” and “three-sided structures” not appearing in nature: poppycock. If you examine enough stimuli (auditory, visual, or otherwise), you will find patterns simply due to the law of large numbers and the fact that our brains evolved as pattern recognition engines, real or not. (“If you look at enough potatoes, you’ll eventually find one that looks like Spiro Agnew.” Or, if you prefer a less anachronistic pop culture reference, substitute “Cheetos” and “Chuck Norris.”) I mean, seriously, dude, I saw an image of the “devil’s face” in the airborne clouds from the destruction of the World Trade Center. Am I supposed to believe that was anything but randomness-plus-brain-wired-to-recognize-faces, because “devils’ faces do not regularly appear in nature?” If so, Occam’s razor slices your claim to bits.

    Finally, if you’re going to level vague accusations of concealing evidence against JPL/NASA/etc., don’t be surprised if people expect more than your word on it as evidence. Failing that, have fun rummaging through the potato bin.

  13. #11 Damon:
    Once again, be a good boy, and go with the nice men in white coats back to your comfy padded room.

  14. Trebuchet

    I took Damon’s post to be a joke. I hope I was right.

  15. Blargh

    So did I at first, with the bit about”JPL’s airbrush department”. Then I remembered that he crops up from time to time in various pareidolia/skepticism threads, so… genuine article or persistent troll. :)

  16. Don’t forget the classic Teddy Bear Porcupine:

  17. This_Guy

    “persistent troll”.. sounds like the name of a particularly nasty release of vapor to me.

  18. #14 Trebuchet:
    If only…! Unfortunately, he crops up with monotonous regularity, posting unintelligible gibberish about UFOs and other assorted nutjobbery.

  19. Georgijs

    It’s not that much as funny as cute. But that’s probably because I love animals and cats in particular.


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