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Popping into your mind

Cognition describes the way we perceive, think, understand, and remember. Humans (and all other animals), being products of evolution, have both positive and negative cognitive abilities. One of the central elements to cognition is pattern recognition. Because evolution benefits species that are able to stay alive, we often have an oversensitive ability to detect patterns in external stimuli where there are none. This phenomenon is called pareidolia. Examples of this include:

  • Ink blobs looking like familiar faces and objects
  • Random data appearing unrandom and patterned (such as coin flips, see the clustering illusion)
  • Seeing jebus!!! in toast
  • Continuing to believe that an elevated mesa in the Cydonia region of Mars is a sculpted face, despite the fact that as the imagery has steadily improved, it looks less and less face-like.