Worst. Pareidolia. Ever.

So what do you see in the tree to the left here? Maybe Jesus? His virgin mom? Maybe a saint? A big bunny rabbit?

Can’t decide? Don’t feel too bad because these people couldn’t decide either, but whatever it is they’re sure it’s divine and enough to get them into the newspaper. They were half right at least:

Ten, maybe 15, people have seen the light-colored outline at the bottom of the tree, Donna and Frank say. They ask each, What do you see?

“I don’t put it in their head, like, ‘Do you want to see something that looks like Christ?’” Donna says.

One person saw a saint. Others have split between Jesus and the Virgin Mary. The light makes a difference. Donna says it’s most obvious between noon and 2 p.m. when the sunlight hits the tree full on. Other times, the figure shifts a little, but it remains, Donna and Frank say.

They don’t know exactly what to make of it. Donna says she was raised Catholic but doesn’t make it to church that often. Still, a certain balance seems to have fallen on the family since the figure appeared, she says. Family illnesses, the trials of everyday life — dealing with everything seems a little more manageable.

“It just kind of brings us back to our roots,” Donna says.

The transformative power of a stain on a tree is simply amazing. “We don’t know what the hell it is, but we sure do feel reassured by it!”

These people would be uplifted by pigeon droppings if they thought they could see Jesus in them.

8 thoughts on “Worst. Pareidolia. Ever.

  1. If anything it looks scary to me, that white patch at the top of the photo looks like a skull to me. Im really starting to think that these people have a mental disorder. Over at rationalresponders.com they think that religion is a mental disorder. What do you think of that, Les. I’m on the fence about whether religion should be considered a mental disorder, though the jesus pareidolia freaks definately are mental.

  2. I think religious belief is a form of delusion, but for most people it’s no worse than many other forms of delusion humans tend to be prone to such as wishful thinking.  Which isn’t to say it’s a good thing that I think should be encouraged, just that I don’t rate it on par with schizophrenia or something along those lines.

    I do think some folks are a little crazy to begin with and their religious beliefs feed into that, but those are the exceptions more so than the rule in my experience.

  3. blank stare …i know i don know you but…

    …ITS A BUMP…ON A TREE!!!!!

    MAN! Some people are stupid… well, i can see that some people will say anything is something relious if it keeps them frm (forced to stop typing at this point…)

  4. Jack Skellington, maybe? 
    I wonder if trees ever get sick of having loonies staring at their blemishes.  Why don’t believers look for signs and wonders on their own bodies?  “Look at little Jimmy’s birthmark- it looks just like the crucifixion!  And those liver spots on Grandma’s arm form the Blessed Virgin!  And this irregular mole I have looks just like John the Baptist’s head!  What?  You think I should have it removed?  Are you crazy?!?!”

  5. I personally see one of those giant brain martians from Mars Attacks! in the part at the top.

    In any event, I don’t think religion is a mental illness like say schizophrenia for most people. I think it’s a mental illness like most neurotic tendencies (for example, mild obsessive compulsive disorder) in most people. We all have neurosis, and perhaps the tendency to be overly credulous when presented with something like religion by authority is just one of the shared neurotic tendencies of the human brain.  One might even argue that it’s an artifact of our simian ancestors tendency to yield to authority within a troop (such as the case in modern groups of apes).  If that is the case, it’s just an extension of our tribal tendencies that most people still actively embrace. 

    Of course, some people are totally delusional in their religion, but I think too they might be suffering from extreme cognitive dissonance, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder or other serious mental problems when they start falling into the “batshit crazy” sort of religion.

    Pareidolia, religious or otherwise (ever notice how some cars look like they have faces on the front?) is just an artifact of our brain that everyone does to some extent or another and really shouldn’t be considered mental illness.

  6. I’m on the fence about whether religion should be considered a mental disorder, though the jesus pareidolia freaks definately are mental.

    Xav, I tend to agree with Les. I think, though, that we are brought to believe a lot of patently crazy things because a) because we are taught to trust authority and emotive responses (like when you’re a kid and “you know you’ve done wrong”, where “wrong” is defined by an authority figure) and b) because we’re already wacky to begin with.

    Give a guy who worships the God of Hippies a chance at this tree, and it won’t take many guesses to know what he sees. What differs different mindsets is about the experience of that person. Religions offer attempts to coagulate that collective experience into something coherent, which is, perhaps, why so many are incoherent.

  7. Here’s the REALLY stupid thing about these sightings… even if they did once exist, no one knows what Jesus or the Virgin Mary looks like.

    Most of the representations that we are familiar with were painted in the previous 3 or 4 centuries, usually by Italian or Byzantine painters who used models of middle-European appearance.

    If that is the case, how can anyone say they have seen a likeness? The stupidity of the human race appalls me. I’m off to another planet; i’ll come back when it’s safe to do so.

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