I’ve been looking for this word for a while. Pareidolia deals with the psychological tendency to recognize “self” in others and/or in other things. The ability for the human brain to do this may date back to a fight-or-flight instinct or a time when our eyes and ears were not so precisely developed. But as a wise old Jedi once said, “Your eyes can deceive you. Don’t trust them.”
This phenomenon weighs heavily on paranormal investigation. Ghost hunting, by definition, implies that you’re actively looking and listening for thing that go bump in the night. Photographic orbs, uncast shadows, and still watching figures are going to be harder to see in grainy images when high definition cameras reveal the truth. I personally believe that only creative people are ever afraid of the dark; who else could perceive a shadowy stalker in their dark bedroom when squinting at a coat thrown over a chair next to a baseball bat? Electronic voice phenomenon or EVP is even harder to prove in this digital age, especially when someone with an illegal CB booster could broadcast through a toaster (hey, you want some toast?)
My point is this: people tend to find what they’re looking for because they are looking for it. The ability of our brains to perceive false images, hear false noises, and even follow illogical threads of thoughts to reach false conclusions is wonderful for storytelling but detrimental to unbiased investigation. But with more and more things under constant surveillance, shouldn’t it only be a matter of time before something significant is recorded that can’t be just our imagination?
Orignal From: Pareidolia: Seeing and Hearing the Familiar