posted on Jan, 5 2011 @ 10:55 PM
reply to post by Jedite
Faces where there are none: Pareidolia
Seeing a face means two things: recognizing a shape as a face, and (possibly) recognizing the person from the face. Both are incredibly important
tasks, and we are very good at both of them. So good, in fact, that we see faces even where there are none.
The fact that we see a few lines as a (Chernoff) face is testament to this. Even an image that is reduced to two points, two lines, and a circle, is
seen as a face that can be curious or scared, happy or sad. This is also how caricatures and cartoons work: a distorted or reduced face, even when
attached to a thing or an animal, is recognized as a face, and the attached object as a person. This also works for the design of certain objects like
cars, which have headlight "eyes."
The fact that we have faces around us almost everywhere we look makes it hard to appreciate this phenomenon. So let's look at some faces that appear
where there clearly are none. This effect is called Pareidolia.
Perhaps the most famous example is the "Face on Mars", which was photographed by a Viking probe in the 1970s. It inspired a lot of speculation about
life on Mars (and some crappy movies), but it later was shown – not surprisingly – to not be a face at all.
In times of Google Maps, faces can also be found on closer planets.
Finally, there are faces in our every-day non-visual communication: smilies. Two or more punctuation characters can express joy, astonishment, shock,
and affection. Who would have thought that these mundane characters that just structure the more important text could convey so much meaning?