Hoax Museum Blog: Pareidolia

Britains Got Talent… and Ghosts — People who spend far too much time staring closely at the TV have identified an extremely small, blurry dark shape that appears to move rapidly across the stage during a semi-final performance on Britains Got Talent. (Embedding is disabled on this video, so you've got to go to YouTube itself.)

It took me a while to even be able to see the "ghost." It starts at 0:51, at the right side of the stage. By 0:53 it's gone, darting off the left side of the stage. (Warning: it's really, really small!)

I think it's just a lighting artifact. Dave Tolomy, who gave me a heads up about it, thinks it may be something an audience member is holding up. Or maybe it really is a ghost! Decide for yourself, if you have nothing better to do.

Posted: Mon Jun 01, 2009.   Comments (8)

Pareidolia Roundup: March 2009 — The Divine Cushion
The "face of Christ" appeared in a cushion attached to a priest's chair, located in a Roman Catholic church on the French Indian island of Reunion. Parish priest Daniel Gavard said, "This is not a miracle, it's a sign of God." So what, exactly, is the meaning of the sign? God likes comfy chairs?

Dead Dad in Ultrasound
Marion McAleese thinks the arm of her dead dad can be seen in this ultrasound, cradling her unborn child. She says, "You can see four fingers on the baby’s face as if a hand is cradling the baby’s head. There is also an arm under the baby’s bottom." She also says she now believes in spiritualism. I guess she didn't before. It's amazing how some people form their religious beliefs entirely on the basis of blurry images.

Jesus Rock
This can be found along Keel Mountain Road in Huntsville, Alabama. Apparently people have been driving past this for decades, but the face was only noticed recently, by one Shirley Maples.

Potato Chip Jesus
A potato chip bearing the image of Jesus Christ was recently served to Brian Hershey of Shippensburg, Pennsylvania while dining at a CR Bucks restaurant. His wife sees the chip as "an indication that she and Brian need to stop smoking." I'd say that's true if what they're smoking is making them see Jesus images on potato chips.

Car Dealership Jesus
Spotted at the Jarrett Ford Lincoln Mercury in Dade City, Florida. The door was hung ten years ago, but as is often the case with such things, the image was only spotted recently. Some of the employees swear it is the spitting image of Christ. Others think it looks like Sasquatch, "Christ in a Jedi outfit," or a "Persian king."

Ice Formation Mary
A chunk of "Virgin Mary" ice formed outside the trailer home of Lionel Gonzales in Plymouth, Indiana. Gonzalez couldn't explain how the ice, which was frozen to the wall of his home, had formed, since it was beneath a window cover and (according to him) no water dripped there.

Virgin Mary Stone
Sergio Romero of Pocatello, Idaho says that as he was polishing this stone, he realized it had an image of the Virgin Mary on it. (I'm just not seeing it.) He also says he wasn't religious before, but is now thinking of going to church. He's also thinking of putting the stone up for sale.

Virgin Mary Brain Scan
A scan of Pamela Latrimore's brain contains a dark spot that kinda looks like the Virgin Mary, according to Pam's sister-in-law, who first noticed the shape six years after the brain scan was taken. Latrimore hopes to raise some money to help pay her medical bills by auctioning off the brain scan.

(Thanks to Cranky Media Guy for his contributions!)
Posted: Wed Mar 18, 2009.   Comments (10)

Pareidolia Roundup: December 2008 — It's been a while since I've done a pareidolia roundup, so a few of these are a couple months old.

Virgin Mary in Salsa Stain
"Elvia Alvarez was recently using her blender to make salsa in her kitchen. Some of the salsa splattered onto the wall, creating what Alvarez says is the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since this happened. Alvaraz says it's a sign that people need to be nicer to each other." Funny. I thought it was a sign she needs to be more careful when making salsa.

Jesus in Guitar
Employees at International Music and Sound in Ludington, Michigan are seeing the face of Jesus in the grain of a guitar. The guitar, which is made out of maple wood, is manufactured by the Washburn Company.

Jesus on Doggie Door
Roger Bowman was about to put his dogs down. But then he saw that the face of Jesus had formed on their doggie door, so he changed his mind. Now he's decided to sell the divine doggie door on eBay. Bidding is currently at $1185. No word on what will happen to the dogs once the door is gone.

Celestial Smiley Face
Astronomers have been abuzz about a rare alignment of Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon that creates a giant smiley face in the night sky. Is no one going to say it looks like Jesus?

Jesus Face in melted chocolate cookie
"Lois Preira, of Ullswater Road, was enjoying a cookie and a cup of tea when she noticed a face in the melted chocolate on the plate." Whose face could it be? Why Jesus, of course!

Obama on Toast
Some guy claimed that the face of Barack Obama "miraculously appeared" on a piece of wonder bread he was toasting, the day after Obama was elected president. Even more miraculous, he managed to sell the "Hope Toast" on eBay for $205.

Jesus or Shakespeare on Banana Peel
Theresa Smith writes: "I was at work getting ready to eat my banana... I peeled it and happened to look at it and noticed a face on the peel! But what I saw was just half the face.. once I put the peel back onto the banana I couldn't believe what I saw! It's Jesus on the banana! It could be Shakespeare too depending on your point of view."

Buddha in Wasp's Nest
Cambodian Buddhists in Rochester, Minnesota noticed that a wasp's nest built in the eaves of their temple looked like Buddha. One monk, Moeun Ngop, said that the wasps were trying to communicate Buddha's message. Would that message be, it's time to hire an exterminator?

Virgin Mary in Hospital Window
Back in September, crowds gathered outside Mercy Medical Center in Springfield, Massachusetts to see what looked like the image of the Virgin Mary in a second-story window. But one of the Sisters of Providence, who dropped by to check it out, was actually kinda skeptical. She said it might be nothing more than "the illusions which light and shadows can cause."
Posted: Wed Dec 03, 2008.   Comments (12)

Pareidolia Roundup: September 2008 — Coffee Stain Christ
Four years ago Sam Marinos had a cup of coffee with his wife. When he was done he turned the cup upside down to allow the grounds to run down the side of the cup -- which is some kind of tradition in his family. He was then "stunned" to see that the grounds had formed what looked to him like the face of Jesus. He's now considering selling the Jesus cup on eBay.

Drywall Jesus
Omar Craddock was doing some work in a client's kitchen when he spotted the image of a face in the drywall mud on an unfinished wall. He immediately thought: Jesus! His brother-in-law, who was with him, is remaining more skeptical, refusing to put a name to the image. But both agree that "For drywall finishing this was a pretty exciting day."

Virgin Mary Grape
Becky Ginn was about to throw away some rotten grapes, but before she did she turned one over and thought, "oh that looks like the Virgin Mary." The grape is now preserved in her freezer. She insists that she has no intention of trivializing the experience. I assume this means she won't be selling it on eBay.

Oyster Shell Jesus
An Orlando woman, while walking down the beach, found an oyster shell that appears to show the face of Jesus. She also found a shell showing the Virgin Mary. "The woman claimed she has had nothing but good luck since finding the shells." I'm not sure if the thumbnail shows the Jesus or Virgin Mary shell, because I can't make out anything in it.

Water Stain Jesus
Seen at a One Stop Body Shoppe in Arkansas City, Kansas. According to the manager: "A client was laying here looking up and told me, Michelle, you have Jesus on your ceiling. I just kind of looked at her, and she said you do, Jesus on the ceiling." The water-stained ceiling tile may soon be headed to eBay.

Thanks to Cranky Media Guy and Stannous Flouride!
Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2008.   Comments (29)

Darwin Smudge Draws Evolutionists — I couldn't resist linking to this piece from The Onion:

A steady stream of devoted evolutionists continued to gather in this small Tennessee town today to witness what many believe is an image of Charles Darwin—author of The Origin Of Species and founder of the modern evolutionary movement—made manifest on a concrete wall in downtown Dayton...

Despite the enthusiasm the so-called "Darwin Smudge" has generated among the evolutionary faithful, disagreement remains as to its origin. Some believe the image is actually closer to the visage of Stephen Jay Gould, longtime columnist for Natural History magazine and originator of the theory of punctuated equilibrium, and is therefore proof of rapid cladogenesis. A smaller minority contend it is the face of Carl Sagan, and should be viewed as a warning to those nonbelievers who have not yet seen his hit PBS series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.

Still others have attempted to discredit the miracle entirely, claiming that there are several alternate explanations for the appearance of the unexplained discoloration.

"It's a stain on a wall, and nothing more," said the Rev. Clement McCoy, a professor at Oral Roberts University and prominent opponent of evolutionary theory.

(Thanks, Big Gary!)

Previous pareidolia humor:
Toast appears on Jesus Christ
Jesus face in ozone hole

Posted: Wed Sep 10, 2008.   Comments (6)

Big Footprint Found — Harold Jackson, a resident of Cookeville, Tennessee, found an indentation on a rock on his property. It looks vaguely like a footprint... a very big footprint. 11 inches across and 15 inches long. The article says he took it home. (I assume he must have made a cast of it and taken that home.)

The surprising thing is that he doesn't think it's a Bigfoot print, though his friends do. He thinks it's a footprint of a Native American.

So how tall would this Native American have been if his feet were 15-inches long? According to WikiAnswers, a person's foot is usually 15% of the height of his body. Therefore, this Native American would have been approximately 100 inches tall, or 8.3 feet.
Posted: Thu Sep 04, 2008.   Comments (28)

Pareidolia Roundup: August 2008 — It's time for the monthly pareidolia roundup:

Toronto Virgin Mary
Christopher Moreau was having a beer in his garden, when he realized that scarring on a tree limb in his yard looked kind of like the Virgin Mary. His neighbor is a bit skeptical, but doesn't really care as long as the religious sightseers stay out of her yard.

JC in Cell Phone
Pensacola resident Linda Square thinks an image stored on her cell phone shows her in silhouette with Jesus Christ beside her. She swears that no one sent her the photo, and she didn't take it herself. The phone created it! Congratulations to anyone who can see ANYTHING in this image.

Jesus Wood
Nadine Ostroff calls this round slab of sycamore her "Jesus Wood." She's had it for 12 years but only recently decided to go public with it. Back then people might have thought her a bit odd for having a Jesus Wood, but nowadays it's no big deal.

Rockwell Jesus
Members of Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Rockwell, North Carolina think there's an image of Jesus in a knot on an oak tree in front of their church.

Knotty Virgin Mary
Antonina Filipertis of Lockport, New York heard a voice in her head telling her to "Look in your tree." She did and, lo and behold, saw images of the Virgin Mary in the knotholes of the tree. She's still hearing the voices in her head. People tell her that she's blessed.

Basswood Jesus
At first David Reed of Birch Run, Michigan couldn't see the Jesus face in the tree in his front yard, though his girlfriend kept pointing it out to him. But now it's clear as day to him. He says, "If the price is right, I might be willing to part with it."
Posted: Wed Aug 27, 2008.   Comments (13)

Pareidolia Roundup — Once again, it's time to play spot the blurry face resembling the iconic image of Jesus (or the Virgin Mary, or whatever).

Cat Fur Jesus
The Johnson family of Indiana recently adopted a kitten. To their surprise, they discovered that the fur on its side contains a pattern that looks like the face of Jesus. They admit that people who don't see it "might think we are weird crazy or something," but they're fine with that. I'd say they haven't quite reached the weird crazy stage yet. Maybe just a bit weird cuckoo.

Kelly Ramey of High Ridge, Missouri found Jesus in a bag of Cheetos. "I looked at that and I thought, 'Oh my that looks like Jesus on the cross.' It was just like wow," she says." Wow is right! Her friend, however, thinks it looks like a horse's head.

Virgin Mary in Sink
Found by a plumber working in a Salinas, California restaurant. "The new owner of the restaurant says the building has housed several different businesses and he sees the image as a blessing of hope for the new restaurant." I don't know about blessings, but they definitely need some bleach cleanser.

An Angelic Image
Recently an "angelic image" (left) was spotted in the window of a Color Tile store in Porterville, California. Huge crowds started turning out to see it, but within a few days the image was gone. Luckily, someone else spotted an image of Christ on the cross in a nearby palm tree (right). "To have two sightings in the same place — it confirms that the image on the window was not fake," said one onlooker. You can't argue with logic like that.

Allah Meat
A diner at a restaurant in northern Nigeria was about to sink his teeth into a piece of gristle, when he noticed the Arabic word for God in the meat. The restaurant then found three more pieces of gristle that also bore the name of Allah. The owner of the restaurant says, "When the writings were discovered there were some Islamic scholars who come and eat here and they all commented that it was a sign to show that Islam is the only true religion for mankind."
Posted: Thu Jul 31, 2008.   Comments (12)

Joker Face in Toilet — Found on eBay: "Dark Knight Joker (Heath Ledger) - Face in My Toilet!" The seller writes:

Plain and simple, you are bidding on my toilet. This toilet was installed in my home in 1971. Recently, I realized that the mineral buildup in the toilet had a strong resemblance to the Joker character in The Dark Knight. Click through the pictures below and see for yourself. Resemblance? You decide. For the winning bidder, we will have a plumber professionally remove the toilet, then have it shipped directly to you. Shipping is $200.

Coincidentally, I'm in the process of remodeling the hallway bathroom in my house and am in the market for a new toilet. But I definitely won't be bidding on this thing.

But at least it's not a Jesus face in a toilet. (Thanks, Heidi)
Posted: Mon Jul 21, 2008.   Comments (11)

A Whole Bunch of Pareidolia — I've been falling behind on my pareidolia updates. So I'm lumping all the recent sightings together in one post:

Spumoni Jesus
Some patrons of Hatch Family Chocolates in Salt Lake City claimed to be able to see the image of Jesus in a 3-gallon bucket of spumoni ice cream. Me: I can't see it at all. Spumoni Jesus started to melt, so they ate him. (Thanks, Bob!)

Face in Log
This one has been getting a lot of attention. Ernest Ward, a groundskeeper at Magnolia Cemetery in Maryville, Tennessee, cut a tree limb, revealing a discoloration that looks like a human face. (What, not Jesus?) The Telegraph thinks it looks like the Queen.

Palm Tree Jesus
A family in Margate, Florida spotted Jesus on a palm tree outside their home. The guy gets around. To me that face doesn't even look vaguely like the traditional, iconic representation of Jesus.

Texas Virgin Mary
The Herrera family of Midland, Texas spotted the Virgin Mary on a tree trunk outside their home. Many locals gathered at their house on the fourth of July to see it for themselves.

Winter Park Jesus
Joe Lewis, a resident of Winter Park, Florida, claims that shadows created by street lights outside his home form an image on a tree that looks a lot like Jesus.

Virgin of Guadalupe Found on Rock
California-resident Jaime Garcia says he was down-on-his-luck until he found a rock that seems -- to him at least -- to show an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe appearing before Saint Juan Diego. In the thumbnail, Garcia's rock is on the right, and on the left is a representation of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Finding the rock inspired Garcia to quit drinking and smoking. He says: "People used to think I'm crazy. Now, they're thinking different." Cranky Media Guy says: "Yeah, now they think he's out of his f---ing mind!"
Posted: Sun Jul 13, 2008.   Comments (12)

Holy Potato — Cranky Media Guy wants to know "Who in the press can we implore to PLEASE MAKE THIS NONSENSE STOP?"

He's referring to the most recent finding of a holy potato. From thelocal.de:

A potato destined for the fryer has become a holy relic to some Berliners after a woman cut it open only to find an image of a cross inside.
Birgül Balta, 49, was cutting potatoes for French fries at her home in Berlin's Charlottenburg district when the cross-shaped cavity inside one of the spuds stopped her cold.
"There was a strange sort of crackling sound like pressure was being released. When she opened it she found that - two perfect crosses," Balta's husband, Robert White, told The Local.

Of course, I assume Cranky knows the answer to his question. There is no one we can appeal to. The nonsense will never stop. Ever.

Related post: some other holy spuds
Posted: Thu May 08, 2008.   Comments (11)

Bigfoot Potato Chip — Don't miss out on this gem on eBay. The seller says: "I have here for auction one ruffled potato chip that looks like Bigfoot. Just for fun, let's call him Chipfoot. 😊 The chip is in very good/stable condition and should ship quite nicely."

I'd make a bid, but at $3 it's already too pricey for me.
Posted: Tue Apr 22, 2008.   Comments (12)

Jesus Baking Tin — Hudson Pace writes: "I was scraping out a baking tin when I discovered this Face of Jesus on the bottom! I thought of putting it on Ebay, but then I thought, I don't need the money, so why not cut out the middleman and send the picture straight to the Museum of Hoaxes? Hope you like it."

Very nice. Thanks, Hudson. And it's made me think that I really should create a Pareidolia Gallery to better categorize all these image-bearing baking tins, trees, pieces of toast, etc.

Posted: Wed Apr 09, 2008.   Comments (20)

The Lady in the Tree — More tree pareidolia. But this time, it's not the Virgin Mary. It's a naked lady. In theory, it could be a naked Virgin Mary, but no one has made that claim.

The tree, which is over 100 years old, stood on a corner in West Chester, Pennsylvania. It was going to be cut down. After its branches were removed, local residents noticed the woman. It wasn't enough to save the tree. They chopped it down anyway, but the owners are planning on making a statue out of the wood.

Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2008.   Comments (12)

Toast Appears on Jesus Christ — John Ordover sent this in. He was looking at a picture of Jesus (or rather, an artist's interpretation of what Jesus might have looked like) when he realized a piece of toast had miraculously appeared on it. I think this must be a message from John's toaster! But can we be sure that actually is a piece of toast? It kinda looks like a granola bar to me.

Posted: Sun Mar 30, 2008.   Comments (64)

Cheesus and Mary — Two examples of religious pareidolia have made headlines recently. The first is "Cheesus" -- a Jesus-shaped Cheeto found by Steve Cragg, a youth director at Memorial Drive United Methodist Church in Houston. He actually found it a couple of years ago, but decided to unveil it recently in honor of Easter.

The second is the Virgin Mary on an Easter egg. KGBT reports: "Veronica Cervera said she was making "cascarones" by dyeing hollow eggshells on Good Friday when an image suddenly appeared. Cervera is convinced it's the Virgin Mary." I can't see the image at all. It looks like a white smudge to me.

Posted: Mon Mar 24, 2008.   Comments (9)

Palm Leaf Mary — And now for your daily pareidolia. (Well, weekly pareidolia, at least.)

Manny Duenas of Sacramento was cutting down some old palm leaves in his yard -- on Palm Sunday, no less -- when he happened to look at one of the leaves in his hand and saw an image of the Virgin Mary cradling baby Jesus in her arms.

Duenas says: "God is out there and maybe these are one of the messages that they send."

Actually, I don't so much see the Virgin Mary figure, but I definitely see an outline of the state of Illinois. Maybe it's some kind of message being sent to us by the Illinois Cornflake.

Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2008.   Comments (7)

Jesus in the Door — Ten years ago Wendy Divock felt a touch on her cheek. She thought it was her husband touching her, but when she turned around, he wasn't there. What she saw instead was an image of a face in her closet door.

Initially Wendy and her husband called the image the "guy in the door," but after doing some research on the internet they decided that it was Jesus. The pastor across the street assures them that the image is "very significant and that it's authentic."

The Dovicks have created a site, jesusinthedoor.com, to publicize their door. They're selling 8x10 glossy photos of it for $13.50. Whenever you click any link on their site, a pop-up screen alerts you of this. They've also got a creepy animated figure that introduces people to the site.

They don't say if Jesus-in-the-door still "touches" Wendy when her back is turned. (Thanks, Bob)
Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2008.   Comments (23)

Solar Mary — According to the website dnaindia.com, 50 people in the Kottayam district of India have lost their vision after gazing into the sun for hours trying to see an image of the Virgin Mary:
Though alarmed health authorities have installed a signboard to counter the rumour that a solar image of Virgin Mary appeared to the believers, curious onlookers, including foreign travellers, have been thronging the venue of the ‘miracle’. St Joseph’s ENT and Eye Hospital in Kanjirappally alone has recorded 48 cases of vision loss due to photochemical burns on the retina...
There are quite a few people still seeking the miracle, despite the experiences of their unfortunate predecessors and strict health warnings against gazing at the sun with the naked eye. “The patients show varying degrees of severity. They are mostly girls in 12-26 age group. Our youngest patient is 12 and the oldest 60. Most of them were looking at the sun between 2 and 4 pm, when UV1 and UV2 rays are harshest,” Dr James Isaac said.

If people feel compelled to see an image of the Virgin Mary in something, it seems much safer to stick with things like grilled cheese sandwiches or tree stumps.
Posted: Tue Mar 11, 2008.   Comments (1)

Jesus or Mary in a tree — Donna and Frank Pascariello have a tree on their property that has a light patch on its bark. Of course, the patch MUST represent a religious figure of some kind. This is the rule whenever trees display any kind of discoloration. However, in the case of the Pascariello's tree, no one is sure exactly which religious figure it is. Jesus? Mary? A saint?

I think it looks like a generic ghost.

Posted: Tue Feb 26, 2008.   Comments (15)

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