How many times, while surfing the Internet, have you seen someone post photos on a paranormal society’s Facebook, asking if a face in an inanimate object is paranormal or not?
A face in toast, plaster, smoke, a ceased shirt, trees and foliage, and…..CLOUDS?
The clouds should have given this away. Remember laying on your back as a child and looking up at the clouds and seeing animals? We would point out dolphins, alligators, dragons and elephants. This is the same thing. This phenomena is called pareidolia matrixing.
Pareidolia(ˌpæraɪˈdəʊlɪə) — n the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist.
It seems that over the course of evolution, human beings have adapted a survival skill of recognizing human faces in shapes and patterns. American astronomer and astrophysicist, Carl Sagan hypothesized that as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face.
This is referred to as face perception. This survival skill gives us the ability to discern emotion. From birth, faces are key to the individuals social interaction. This can help us figure out if we are in danger, or if another individual is safe or approachable. Faces are key to a humans interaction with the world around, therefore we recognize them immediately, even subconsciously.
Famous examples of pareidolia:
Face on Mars
The Rabbit Moon
The Old Man of the Mountains in Franconia, New Hampshire
The Man in the Moon
The “Rock Face” in the Rocky Mountains,Colorado
Horsehead Nebula, Orion
There are literally millions of other examples of this, but these are some people may recognize right away.
As I mentioned earlier in this entry, I talked about clouds. Clouds are probably the most common way we can demonstrate pareidolia, in a way in which everyone can relate. While we recognized that this takes place in abstract patterns, we also recognize that the lion cub we see in the clouds, is not in fact a lion club, but a pattern that happens to look like one. This is the same when it goes for human faces in patterns. Whether its animals, humans or objects such as planes trains and automobiles- the basis is the same, our brains are trained to recognize familiar objects in patterns.
Pareidolia and the Paranormal – Greying the area between Paranormal and Paranoid
To our team, education is extremely important. We feel that if we want to see positive changes in the Paranormal community, we must be part of that positive change. We cannot complain about how things are being handled, if we are not willing to help change it. Education is key. It’s a goal of ours to help educate the public as well as new investigators who might be coming into the field. We’re sorry if what we’re about to say comes off as critical or rude. It’s not our intention. We do however feel this all needs to be said.
In the day in age of the Paranormal reality revolution, its easy to get caught up in the hype. In the attempt of being recognized and being seen as really open minded, some have become so open minded that they have become closed minded to the idea of anything “normal”. Believing skeptics are becoming harder to find. This does not mean being skeptical of ghosts or other paranormal phenomena, but being skeptical of the people who give us material and skeptical of the methods being used to capture it. Some things that can be easily explained, are being labeled paranormal in fear of appearing close minded. Critical thinking has fallen by the way side.
Before the internet there was more of an excuse for this sort of thing to be believed of as paranormal. Unless we had access to scientific journals or knew someone who understood these things, we may not know. But now days with information readily available at the tips of our fingers, there really is no excuse for passing off common human reactions to patterns, as anything but just what it is: a survival skill.
We learned that the world wasn’t flat, we should be able to understand this.
Also, we are also in the age of “not offending anyone”, so instead of offering a plausible explanation for phenomena, we find ourselves nodding and saying “maybe” as opposed to educating the public on whats really happening.
Paranormal Investigators are especially guilty of this. Everyone wants a piece of the “paranormal glory”, and to be part in an ongoing popularity contest in the community. This is very prominent on social media. People seem more concentrated on numbers on their counters in the form of “likes”, than producing valid evidence and giving good plausible reasons for unexplainable phenomena. It doesn’t have to be unexplainable, if we would just do our duty of explaining. In the effort of proving that the paranormal exists, we are deeming anything “possible” into being absolute. Evidence review has become very diluted when we are calling a face in a pile of unfolded laundry, the spirit of a deceased human being. This is not helping the community, this is damaging it’s integrity.
Ranting Moment: Problems in the Paranormal Community
At the risk of sounding catty or rude, the best way I can express how this makes me feel as a paranormal investigator who has dedicated their time into educating themselves- “Let’s not be SO open minded, that our brains fall out.”
YOU MUST THINK CRITICALLY.
Our team has collectively over 20 years experience in the paranormal. On most cases, considering that we visit highly active areas, we produce a small handful of EVP, and rarely something photographic (or visual) per case. 70% of what we find is usually personal experiences. If your team is rendering 30 EVP, 40 “evidence” photos, and other phenomena, its time to consider possibly honing in on your evidence review skills.
It very easy to spot out teams on social media who have been in the field for a long amount of time, or who strive for education of their members. We do not mean to demean other teams who enjoy doing what we do, everyone is entitled to be here. We certainly do not feel that we are better than anyone else. We do however pride ourselves in doing the foot work of educating our members on common phenomena that occur in this “field” (word used loosely), that are frequently mistaken as paranormal. And by this, we mean having strict standards in what we call evidence of the paranormal. Our evidence goes through rigorous debunking before we label it. This includes submitting it for peer review to others in the community, NOT JUST OUR TEAM MEMBERS.
“When in doubt- THROW IT OUT!”
I would rather have 1 solid piece of evidence, than a thousand “maybe” pieces of evidence. Which would you rather have? One $1 bill or one hundred pennies?
Many teams do not like being told anything contrary to what they believe they have captured. If you do not agree with them that it is paranormal, and all out war ensues. Blocking and nasty words are exchanged. If you do not wish to have your work critiqued, it is suggested that you do not put it up on social media. Because, eventually, people will question your work.
While we have no problem with people having teams who ghost hunt, what we do have a problem with is people who do not understand these basic debunking fundamentals. These are the individuals who proclaim themselves as professionals and who go into peoples homes and declare some very basic non-paranormal phenomena as evidence of a haunting, leaving their clients more confused than ever and with no resolution. This is not okay.
And the clean up for teams who do strive for paranormal excellence and professionalism? This is a nightmare.
PAREIDOLIA IS NOT PARANORMAL PHENOMENA.
So PLEASE, educate yourself and your team on these different subjects. Learn your equipment. Learn what causes these phenomena. Read books. Read articles. AND PLEASE, learn as much as you can before going into people’s homes and causing more panic and disorder! They still have to live there long after we are gone.
Anna started Angels of Light Paranormal Society, out of Marysville, CA. She enjoys doing residential based investigations. Growing up a terrified child, I felt I wanted to make that the basis of my own investigations: helping people to understand what was happening to them.