Yes, I can see “the face” in the cloud…

March 7, 2012

And it’s nice to see an article that leaves it up to the readers

to decide what it is they see, rather than just quote people who claim it’s God’s face. I can see what looks like guy in a cap and beard looking downward, but I also see another just above that, something resembling a Kewpie doll smoking a pipe.

On that note, I announce a new project I agreed to take on for a Saskatoon Freethinkers meet-up – a talk on the topic of “Icons, Imagery and Imagination.” There will be other fun examples of paredolia plus a few stories of controversial art interspersed with whatever else I can I can dredge up history-wise that show off the wide range of ways religions have used art to get their messages across. It winds up being a bit grandiose in scope but I think the bulk of the research has already been done simply by having this blog.


Another final resting place for Jesus found: in a tortilla

March 2, 2012

Yep. I believe this is true more than I believe the tomb story written about earlier.

David Sandoval says he was about to chow down on Ash Wednesday dinner last week when he saw Jesus in one of his mom’s hand-baked tortillas.

“I passed it to my mom, and she said, ‘oh my god,’” said Sandoval.

What made the find even more astonishing was that it was the first day of Lent.

He went and posted the picture on Facebook, and comments started flooding in.

“Everybody has been able to see it. They agree, and they’re calling it a miracle.”

Yes, of course they would. Astonishing.


I’ve showed off my french toast Gandalf before. If this tortilla somehow proves Jesus was real, my french toast proves Gandalf was real. Praise J.R.R. Tolkien for revealing the truth!

Old news — well, not news, but Jesus on a sock at least

January 26, 2012

Or rather, wrinkles on a sock that the owner thought resembled Jesus. Obviously the media had to be told all about it, with a picture to prove it’s a miracle vision.

From the Daily Mail article:

It is reminiscent of one of Christianity’s most significant relics.

But unlike the Turin shroud, this image of Jesus’ face was found on a sock among items of laundry in Kent.

And it’s a wrinkle easily shaken out, not an image painted on a piece of cloth by hucksters aiming to fleece a populace.

Sarah Crane, from Orpington, was stunned when she hung her laundry out to dry and discovered the face of Jesus staring back at her from a crumpled sock.

Miss Crane was so impressed by the clarity of the face she even built a shrine to the sock.

No offense, Miss Crane, but really? I hope that’s a bit of a joke and you’re merely pretending this is actually an important discovery. I can’t tell if the other picture presented in the article is a reenactment of her reaction to the “miracle”, or if she truly marvels over the way the fabric crinkled when it was hung to dry.

“I immediately took some pictures to show our family and friends – they all thought it was hilarious.

‘We think it’s a bit of a sign – but for what we don’t know.’

It’s a bit of a sign all right, a sign of a person desperate for a bit of media attention. No wonder she contacted the Daily Mail. I get the impression they’ll print anything, no matter how daft.

Miss Crane said she began making a shrine to the sock, but when she moved it, some of its delicate creases fell away and the image is now not as clear.

‘But you can still just about make out his face,’ she said.

Never occurred to her to buy some spray starch first, I guess. That would have set the fabric long enough for her to get it framed in a shadowbox…

‘Unfortunately, it’s not quite good enough to donate to our local church, but our friends have all been round to see it.’

Again I say, I really hope she’s joking about that. This is fun to make fun of, but I know there are people who take these kinds of “signs” seriously and if she’s not careful, she’ll wind up with pareidolia-believing tourists invading her yard, intent on getting a glimpse of the new fabric Jesus. Wouldn’t they be disappointed over such a ruse?

Virgin Mary? I think it looks like the aura around a…

January 11, 2012

penis actually. But check out the picture yourself and see what you think.

According to the article:

An Ybor City restaurant’s name has taken on a new meaning after some say the image of the Virgin Mary appeared on one of its walls.

The restaurant is Hamburger Mary’s and the image first got attention over the weekend after some customers noted its appearance on a stainless steel plate on the wall near the kitchen.

“From certain angles it does look like the Virgin Mary,” says acting manager Melanie Todd. “I never have noticed it myself, before [this weekend].”

This isn’t the first time the Blessed Virgin has appeared on an inanimate object in Tampa Bay. For several years an image said to be her adorned the glass windows of a Clearwater office building. Vandals destroyed the several of the windows in 2004.

Todd says the image at the restaurant — known for its gay karaoke and drag queen bingo nights — reminds her of that earlier appearance in Clearwater. “Everybody is curious to see it,” she says. “It’s a true image, it really is.”

A true image insofar as the pattern is truly there on the wall, not a photograph doctored after the fact. But truly the Virgin Mary? Poppycock.

Holy Crayola! Jesus in crayons

December 20, 2011

Blurred as the image is, it really could be anything.

Sadly, the Daily Mail’s always seems willing to give face time to people who think they’ve experienced a pareidolia miracle.

A woman who prayed for a sign from Jesus got a little more than she bargained for when his image emerged out of some melted crayons.

Tara Gomez and her son put a few colourful sticks in the oven as part of an arts and crafts project they wanted to try out.

After cooling the mixture in the freezer, Ms Gomez was startled to discover Jesus’s face had emerged out of the swirling pattern at her home in Blue Springs, Missouri.

The young mother told ABC7: ‘I’d been praying and praying about certain things, and I asked God for a sign and I think the crazy thing about this… what better sign to get then right in front of you.’

The thing is, when you really want a sign, a sign can be anything.

Credit to the author of the piece, though, who reminded readers that it’s possible to buy Jesus toasters and give yourself a sign every day with breakfast, lunch or dinner. But probably not in time for Christmas.

Without Jesus, who would people think they see in trees and breakfast foods?

November 15, 2011

I never seem to have to wait long for another example of pareidolia making headlines. This time around, the Daily Mail (among others) has reprints of an American tourist’s photo of the cliffs of Moher and if you stare at the picture just right, a face does appear to be looking out at the camera. It’s Jesus’ face, of course. And to make sure you see what Sandra Clifford saw, they provide you with the image of a painting of Jesus as he probably didn’t look in real life anyway.

The 42-year-old pilot from San Francisco couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted an imprint of as she visited the famous County Clare tourist attraction.

She told Irish Central: ‘To me it was Jesus Christ straight away.

‘I am a pilot, so I am always skeptical of what I see, that is why I started grabbing people and asking them what they saw

Breaking in to note how completely opposite of skepticism Ms Clifford’s reaction to the rock formation was. Instead of, “hey, that kind of looks like a face. I should take a picture of that. It’s cool.” She immediately convinces herself it’s Christ she’s gotten a special look-at and can’t wait to tell the world about it.

It had been raining prior to the sighting and the pilot said it had been ‘a day of rainbows.’

And as everybody knows, at least everyone who thinks like this woman thinks (and atheist bloggers who do a bit of Googling), rainbows are considered visible proof of God’s mercy. It comes from the story of Noah and the ark and God rewarding the passengers with a rainbow after He killed every other living thing on earth by drowning them. The rainbow is supposed to symbolize God’s promise never to do it again, no matter how riddled with sin humans might be. Every rainbow is supposed to be interpreted as God reminding the world of his power and his grace.

And Ms Clifford is not alone in thinking her sighting is completely genuine.

Later that evening Ms Clifford, who was holidaying with her friend Fiona Fay, went to Gus O’Connors Pub in Doolin, where locals whole hardheartedly agreed with their diagnosis.

Teresa O’Flaherty, who owns the bar with her husband Patric, told IrishCentral that they couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the snap.

‘I was like, wow, I actually thought it was a picture of a picture, I was shocked,” she said.

‘It’s very definitely an image of Christ,” she said.

Ms Clifford maintains the images are 100 percent legitimate and points out the original photograph are still in the camera, which she passed around in the Co. Clare pub that evening.

This is a case of skepticism and sense going the way of the dodo. I don’t know why these are the conclusions people want to jump to all the time. What does it say about their mental state? I don’t mean they’re nuts or anything, I just wonder why they think they see what they see. Why didn’t she see a troll in the cliff face? That’s what it reminded me of and I didn’t even have a troll folklore upbringing. I did see Return to Oz, though, so it also reminds me of the Nome King who wanted to steal Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

So I suppose that’s my answer. People see what they see because they’re building it out of past experiences. They see Jesus because they’ve been inundated with imagery of Jesus from a very young age and it’s become automatic for them to holler, “It’s Jesus!” as soon as they see anything that remotely resembles their remembered idea of what Jesus looks like.

It reminds me of something…forget when it would have been, but I’m assuming university. I was shown a picture that was just black and white but the shape of both on the page made it resemble something very “familiar” and I blurted the exact same thing, even though I’d never been anything remotely like a true believer. The person showing me the picture said something like, “Are you sure?” and I remember taking a mental step back and changing my answer. “Sorry, right, it just looks a bit like a man with a beard.” I don’t think I really thought of the image as an image of Christ, but no one’s truly immune from cultural conditioning. A few years of Catholic school + a few relatives with bible inspired art on the wall + a random face with a beard = Jesus Christ. Sad, really.

It was kind of eye opening for me, though, how quick a person can make an assumption based on fuck-all for evidence. That’s probably why I like finding these stories and writing about them. I think more people need to have the same kind of eye-opening/mental step back that I had.

There’s a picture of two ghosts having sex?

November 2, 2011

This bugs me. Story like this and no picture to go along with it.

An Ohio woman said her 4-year-old granddaughter snapped a picture of two ghosts having sexual relations in her living room.

Dianne Carlisle of Euclid said her granddaughter, Kimora, 4, was playing with her cellphone in the living room and Carlisle later found one of the pictures she snapped depicted a pair of ghosts getting down and dirty, WJW-TV, Cleveland, reported Tuesday.

“I never seen anything like this,” Dianne said. “I mean, ghosts still have feelings? (They’re) having sex?”

Carlisle said she has had previous encounters with ghosts, including a voicemail message from her deceased sister.

Gawker saves the day, though.

They also have the video footage Fox news got of the family after the fact. I expect the girl accidentally took a photo of a lamp that was on while her hand was moving the camera and the result was a flash of light that looks a bit like legs entwined. That’s far more likely than catching two ghosts in flagrente delicto if you ask me.