- Blessed Snackrament May 6
Found Jesus in your breakfast? Perfectly normal. See Jimi Hendrix rocking out in your soup? Also normal. Have a vision of Groucho Marx and Marie Antoinette smooching each other on your pancakes? Weird, but sure, also totally normal.
All of those oddities are understandable thanks to a phenomenon called "face pareidolia," according to researchers from the University of Toronto. The human brain is hardwired to recognize facial features in non-faces, the study concluded, "so that even when there's only a slight suggestion of facial features the brain automatically interprets it as a face."
It works like this: The frontal cortex picks up on little cues and then passes them on to other parts of the brain that handle perception, thereby influencing what the mind expects to see. Meaning, when one part of the brain shouts "Face!" the rest of the brain will be inclined to see a face.
So you aren't crazy if you think you see Jesus staring back at you from your toast, your tortilla, and so on. Believing that Jesus actually is inside that tree over there, though, is a whole different story.- -
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- It's official: The religious right is calling it quits
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Obama just kneecapped Jeb Bush and Chris Christie's 2016 prospects
- How science is accelerating our search for alien life
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1: 10 major differences between the book and the movie
- 6 tiny scientific mistakes that created huge disasters
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- Inside Turkey's shadow war with ISIS
- The dangerously childish morality of liberal ObamaCare supporters
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
Subscribe to the Week