Pareidolia: it’s all about the angles

cardboard package that looks like a mask


I was out for a walk the other day when I saw this cardboard trash in the street, as you can see below. As soon as I saw it, I thought “that looks like a mask!” and it kind of reminds me of the Marvel Comics villain Dr. Doom and his mask. This is a perfect case of pareidolia, which is defined as “seeing familiar objects or patterns in otherwise random or unrelated objects.” As far as the title of this blog post, scroll down for my explanation …

cardboard package that looks like a mask
Do you see what I see? What looks like a mask?

I say it’s all about the angles, because if I flip my view upright, as I show in the picture below left, perhaps you can see the “mask” as I see it, but as I walked up closer to this cardboard package and looked at it straight on, as you can see below right, it doesn’t look anything like a mask, and it’s clearly just a partially-smashed drink holder from some restaurant. These two pictures look like totally different objects, but I didn’t touch it or change anything other than my viewpoint. There was just something perfect about the angle of my original view that gave the openings in the cardboard the look of eyes and a mouth. This is not the first time this has happened to me … I have a habit of experiencing pareidolia wherever I go.

an example of pareidolia
This cardboard package provided me with the experience of pareidolia.
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