What image does this picture conjure up in you?

March 31, 2021

Just a few days ago, I was outdoors and came upon what most people won’t even notice, but was there for you to see clearly.

In fact, I had passed this by many times before I decided it was interesting and took a photo of it. It was interesting to me because I could imagine something else quite appealing when I saw it.

Let’s see if we agree.

I have a simple question for you: What is in the picture below?

Join me in this fun. If you want to see what I thought of when I looked at this, please submit this super quick questionnaire. You’ll get my take on this after you submit!

Visit the questionnaire

I have always had fun with imagining interesting things while looking at mundane artifacts of life.

Who hasn’t? Interpreting cloud formations to be interesting characters is a game we’ve all played, I am sure.

I have been happy to conjure up all these images, but never knew that there was a specific term for this skill: Pareidolia.

I call it a skill because it can be an endless source of inspiration for your creativity if you train yourself to translate common occurrences into special situations routinely.

What do you see when you look up pareidolia on Google?

Wikipedia defines it as a tendency for incorrect perception.

Helpful prompts offered by Google as popular related questions:

Wow! Any positive thinkers out there?

Thankfully, the same Wikipedia page on Pareidolia confesses (hidden away from summary view) that while “it was at one time considered a symptom of psychosis, it is now seen as a normal human tendency.”

There are countless sources on the web that discuss this idea, but one that builds on this vindication and offers a few interesting examples further assuages our concerns.

Phew! we’re safe.

When you think about it, every smiley face we so readily use these days totally depend on our perception of these as specific facial expression of moods.

How wrong can this be, then?

Psychologists tried to vilify the gift of Pareidolia in all of us, and looks like we have prevailed.

Now it’s your turn. Sharpen your instincts for it by interpreting the picture above.

Visit the Questionnaire

I am not giving up my hobby of nurturing alternate, artistic perception of ordinary things anytime soon.

P. Venkat Raman


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