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Pareidolia

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Pareidolia

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:16 pm

• pareidolia •


Pronunciation: pæ-ri-do-lee-ê • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, mass

Meaning: The false or mistaken recognition of images in a random pattern, such as seeing images in the shapes of clouds or features of the human face on the moon.

Notes: Here is a seldom used word that could be very useful to us all. The human brain is organized by categories so, when we see something different, we try to stuff it into one of those preexisting categories. Humans favor animate categories, hence we often see animals and humans in inanimate things. That is what pareidolia is. This word appears in no dictionaries, so it has no reported relatives, though, I suppose, pareidolian we might safely use as an adjective and a noun meaning "someone who sees things that aren't there". Faces1

In Play: Who hasn't lain in a grassy field on a bright summer's day, watching puffy white clouds roll by, trying to figure out what each of them looks like? That's pareidolia. However, we may feel free to use the term metaphorically: "Anita Job sees the new boss's arrival as a catastrophe, but Anita suffers from pareidolia and even sees things in clouds that are not there." Faces2

Word History: Today's Good Word was made up recently from Ancient Greek para "abnormal, wrong" + eidolon "ghost, apparition". Para comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root that gave us English far and for. It has several senses in Greek, but is used here in the sense it has in paranormal. Eidolon comes from Greek eidos "form, shape", the noun from the verb eidon "to see". This verb goes back to the same PIE root that became videre "to see" in Latin, which went into the making of dozens of words that English borrowed, such as video, vision, visit, and view. When it came through Old Germanic, it became wissen "to know" in German and wise and wit in English, no doubt, because of the association of seeing in the sense of the ancient seers, who could see into the future. (Iain Smallwood of Surrey, England, is the seer who saw the intrigue in today's Good Word, so we should thank him for suggesting it in the Alpha Agora.)
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby MTC » Thu Sep 19, 2013 3:22 am

Not only the false or mistaken recognition of images, but also of sounds, a phenomenon called audio pareidolia which is discussed here:

"Have you ever been singing a popular song along with the radio when your friend turns to you and asks, “What are you singing?” The incredulous look on their face suggests to you that perhaps you are not singing the correct words, and eventually you both get a laugh at how horrendously you mangled the lyrics. I friend of mine, for example, once confessed that they thought that in the song “little red corvet” Prince was singing “pay the rent collect.”

This is a form of audio pareidolia. Pareidolia is the neurological phenomenon of seeing a pattern or figure in random noise – a face in the clouds, or Jesus on a tortilla shell, for example. The images are not really there. There is just the suggestion of a face or some figure in the image and our brain does all work, finding the closest match to a recognized pattern, and then enhancing and even filling in details to create the illusion of a face or whatever.

Audio pareidolia is hearing words in sound that are not actually there. This can occur by misinterpreting words that are being said, or by hearing words in random noise. The phenomenon is the same as with visual pareidolia, in that the brain is searching for a recognized pattern, finds the closest match, and then processes the incoming sensory information to enhance the apparent match."

http://skepfeeds.wordpress.com/2009/03/ ... areidolia/

Wordmavens, Goodwordians, Logophiles, and others with too much time on their hands will immediately recognize audio pareidolia as the phenomenon behind Mondegreens.
Last edited by MTC on Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby call_copse » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:48 am

Ahh yes - I always remember wondering why Jimi Hendrix sang 'Excuse me while I kiss this guy!' when in a purple haze.

Nice treatment by the way.

I enjoyed the photos at the site below, the linked one being the most ... pareidoliac? .. to my mind.
http://perfectlytimedpics.com/amazing-d ... tly-timed/
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby David McWethy » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:58 am

As erudite as the previous posts are, neither author specifically stated that the Hear It! [i.e., hear the word correctly pronounced] button had been clicked.

As I probably am less sure of my pronunciation of off-the-beaten-track words than are most of my peers on this site, when I click on Hear It! I get a 404-File Not Found response. Has anyone else had this problem hearing the word spoken, or is it a failure on the part of my PC, alone?
"The time has come," the Walrus said, "to talk of many things...."
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby Slava » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:28 pm

I no longer have a sound card, having spilled on my laptop, so I don't bother with the Hear It link. However, I did click on it and got the same response. I then sent a PM to Dr. Goodword (which, by the way, anyone can do) to let him know so he can fix it. I'm sure it will be taken care of soon enough. :D
Last edited by Slava on Thu Sep 19, 2013 2:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:36 pm

I get the error 404 not found notice.


I suppose Virgin Mary on tree bark and Jesus Christ
on French toast would fit into this word's definition.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby MTC » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:32 pm

I clicked on "Hear It!" and lo, heard it!

Fearful (perhaps excessively) of auditory hallucinations, I consulted the Dictionary of Hallucinations where I found the sound I heard was probably real, sounding as it did much like what I imagine Dr. Goodword's voice would actually sound like if I ever heard him speak in person which I haven't. A grey resonance of kindness and wisdom, that is. Still, doubts linger. What if the voice I heard is not Dr. Goodword's, but an impostor's, or more disturbingly a voice in Dr. Goodword's dream, and that Poe-like within another dream? But stop! This way lies madness, an endless recursive descent from one dark uncertainty to another. Oh, for the sound of a reassuring voice, my mother's or Sister Anne Marie's---"Time to pull up now," a voice tells me, "before you hit the ground." Back, back, back on the stick from my self-indulgent fugue. Not quite fully recovered, but still alert enough to leave you with this pearl from the Dictionary of Hallucinations: the German word for pareidolia is "Nebenbildwahrnehmung."
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby Slava » Thu Sep 19, 2013 6:42 pm

MTC wrote:I clicked on "Hear It!" and lo, heard it!

That's because it was fixed well before 3 this afternoon.

As to the voice, I believe it is not the Dr., but an associate. He told us once upon a time that it was Andrew who had made the pronunciation files. I don't know if that is still the case, however.
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby gailr » Thu Sep 19, 2013 8:27 pm

MTC wrote:Audio pareidolia is hearing words in sound that are not actually there. This can occur by misinterpreting words that are being said, or by hearing words in random noise. The phenomenon is the same as with visual pareidolia, in that the brain is searching for a recognized pattern, finds the closest match, and then processes the incoming sensory information to enhance the apparent match.

The phenomenon was exploited in The Murders in the Rue Morgue. I wanted a more scholarly link, but alas, the least turgid on-line exploration of the plot I found is here.
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby MTC » Fri Sep 20, 2013 1:06 am

Gailr gave me credit for authorship ("MTC wrote") I cannot claim. The paragraphs in quotes are from a blog. Only the fugue is mine.

Interesting though that in my flight I referred to Poe. Now it turns out Poe wrote The Murders in the Rue Morgue which explored auditory pareidolia.
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby Slava » Fri Sep 20, 2013 9:16 pm

Here is a rather extreme example of pareidolia:

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/arti ... 86320.html

Arf! Arf!
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby misterdoe » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:53 pm

call_copse wrote:Ahh yes - I always remember wondering why Jimi Hendrix sang 'Excuse me while I kiss this guy!' when in a purple haze.


Actually, he did sing just those words in concert from time to time, while standing next to his bassist. Then he'd turn and kiss him. :lol:
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby misterdoe » Sat Sep 28, 2013 8:56 pm

Earlier today I saw a post on Tumblr featuring photos of objects that seemed to have faces, with Pareidolia as the name of the post.

Things with Faces (Pareidolia)

The lighters and the sink with missing faucet handles crack me up.
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby MTC » Sun Sep 29, 2013 2:49 am

Quirky and amusing, misterdoe.

What about "Prosopagnosia," a site for forgotten faces? But then, how...? Don't ask.
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Re: Pareidolia

Postby Slava » Thu Oct 03, 2013 12:18 pm

:?: I wonder if prosopagnosics can experience pareidolia.
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