People have long seen faces in the Moon, in oddly-shaped vegetables and even burnt toast, but a Berlin-based group is scouring the planet via satellite imagery for human-like features. What’s behind our desire to see faces in our surroundings, asks Lauren Everitt.
Most people have never heard of pareidolia. But nearly everyone has experienced it.
Anyone who has looked at the Moon and spotted two eyes, a nose and a mouth has felt the pull of pareidolia.
It’s “the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist”, according to the World English Dictionary. It’s picking a face out of a knotted tree trunk or finding zoo animals in the clouds.
German design studio Onformative is undertaking perhaps the world’s largest and most systematic search for pareidolia. Their Google Faces programme will spend the next few months sniffing out face-like shapes in Google Maps. (via BBC News - Pareidolia: Why we see faces in hills, the Moon and toasties)