Pareidolia (/pærɨˈdoʊliə/ parr-i-doh-lee-ə) is a psychological phenomenon involving a stimulus (an image or a sound) wherein the mind perceives a familiar pattern of something where none actually exists.
Picture from cryptomundo.com
If there’s anything worse than someone who claims multiple bigfoot encounters with ZERO evidence, it’s someone who claims to have multiple pictures of a bigfoot without having a picture of anything at all..
Unfortunately, this is an all too common occurrence, especially in a field when “researchers” are so desperate to be the first to come forward with actual photographic proof (Whether or not a photograph will EVER actually be enough to prove the existence of the creature is another argument entirely).
Even outside the world of bigfoot, the pareidolia phenomenon is a common occurrence. The human brain looks for familiar patterns, regardless of context.
Take a look at a few non-bigfoot examples…
Sadly, many times it is more reasonable to believe that flower is an actual monkey than to believe there is a living, breathing, ape in most of these Sasquatch “pictures”.
The Science Behind Pareidolia
One of the main drivers of pareidolia is believed to be an evolutionary mechanism designed (like most evolutionary mechanisms) to keep us from harm.
Think about it this way;
A long time ago, one of your great great (x 1000) grandfathers woke up one morning from his nice warm cave and stepped out into the sunshine.
His cave was located in the middle of a dense forest which is, inevitably, filled with dangerous animals and situations that he must be aware of at all times.
Scanning the undergrowth of the forest, he see’s something peering back at him.
It’s large, has two gigantic eyes, and appears to be swaying back and forth, ready to spring from the foliage and tear him to pieces.
Immediately, great great (great great great) gramps turns and sprints back into the safety of his cave. No time to ask questions. No time to confirm what the creature lurking in the shadows actually was.
So what was this monstrosity preparing to tear him limb from limb?
Two large flowers swaying in the cool morning breeze.
What his brain thought was there was, in reality, nothing like what was actually there.
But what if it was a blood thirsty predator (like it often times was)?
He was safe.
But here’s the kicker…
It goes even further than this…
Not only does pareidolia exist but is often influenced by things that we expect to see.
In other words, a Sasquatch researcher who is in an area he (or she) believes to be “hot” with activity inherently carries the predisposition to “see” a Sasquatch in pictures and even hear supposed Sasquatch in recordings.
That’s right, not only does pareidolia exist visually but audibly as well.
Someone who doesn’t believe in Sasquatch will often hear a coyote, an owl, or a dog. These people will see any variance from a “normal” call made by these animals as something of a “one off” or merely an unusual call (though not beyond the realm of possibility).
Compare that to someone who believes in Sasquatch and is actively looking (and listening) for proof.
A coyote call that sounds remotely “off” is automatically cause to rule out a coyote and place the sound in the realm of possible Sasquatch.
Pareidolia means even a call that is well within the capability of another known creature can be heard as something completely different.
We all are guilty of succumbing to the phenomenon of pareidolia. When you want something to be real, even believe it to be real, everything begins looking (and sounding) different, and that’s not a bad thing. However, it is something that we need to be aware of and assess our feelings and findings accordingly.
“It pays to keep an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out.”