When you look at a picture like this, what do you see? Chances are you see a face.
You see eyes, you see a mouth, you see emotions, even though these are just inanimate objects, there's nothing there.
But you've heard this story before, the internet loves pictures like these.
They sell on eBay for a lot of money, and they make headlines all the time.
"They say it's the face of Jesus etched by nature on a hillside, look at this."
"I certainly feel blessed." "Jesus."
It's clearly the image of what we know to be Jesus, and there must be a reason.
" It's caused by this phenomenon called pareidolia, which is Greek for "beyond the image."
Way back in the day it was considered a symptom of psychosis,
Leonardo da Vinci wrote about it in a notebook as good inspiration for painters,
and psychologists started to use it as a mental evaluation technique.
The idea behind it is that our brains consume a lot of random information all the time
and they're constantly trying to pinpoint patterns to make sense of everything around us.
So when we look at something like concrete floor,
our brains pick up the stuff that makes sense like a letter of the alphabet or two eyes and nose.
And these are the things that we're most comfortable with and familiar with,
so whether or not they're actually there, they're what we tend to perceive because they make sense to us.
In this one experiment from 2011, people were shown faces hidden inside a noise background and they recognized them really well,
over 90 percent of the time in each trial.
But when they were given noise-only images without faces hidden in them,
participants kept seeing faces about 40 percent of the time, even when there was nothing there.
Now scientists believe that this response is caused by a specific part of the brain called the Fusiform face area which is specialized for facial recognition.
And it starts working really early in humans.
Studies have shown that babies who were given drawings that look like this
will consistently gravitate towards the one that's arranged to look like a human head by about 12 months old.
"On the tortilla takes on the appearance on Jesus his head his facial hair the whole thing."
But here's where it gets interesting.
In a 2013 study, researchers at the University of Helsinki tested 47 people for pareidolia.
Some of them were religious or paranormal believers, and some of them were not.
And they found that the believers were consistently more prone to perceiving faces in random patterns than the skeptics were.
So really it's no surprise that so many of these incidents involve seeing a face of a religious figure in a random pattern and that's what makes this so interesting.
Our constant search for meaning in everything is actually hardwired in our brains.
And that's what makes us who we are.