Speed Reads

Blessed Snackrament

Seeing Jesus in your food is normal, says science

CC by: Jeff Noble

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.