Pareidolia and Anthropomorphism

A pareidolic Virgin Mary. Photo John Hanley/Sun Media

A pareidolic Virgin Mary. Photo John Hanley/Sun Media

Christopher Moreau, a 47 year old Canadian man, recently noticed the tree growing in his yard presents the image of “the Virgin Mary.” According to the Sun Media article in the link, the tree:

has left dumbfounded residents wondering if their neighbourhood has been divinely blessed.

Some have even been brought to tears by the surreal Mary in the tree.

Interestingly enough, Moreau, who stated he is “not a wacko” also said, “why do I need to go to church? I feel that God has come to me.”

This is interesting because it shows a classic case of pareidolia, where the human brain perceives a human image that fulfills some sort of expectation or fills in a pattern of recognition. In most cases of pareidolia, the subject knows that its an illusion. Take, for instance, the shape of a dog or horse in a cloud, or a sad face on a clock (below).

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