What is pareidolia?

Do you ever think you can see your best friend’s face in the clouds? What about the Man in the Moon? This is an incompletely understood phenomenon called pareidolia. Many theories exist to explain it, including religious, scientific, evolutionary and psychological explanations.

The most likely is that the complex human brain attempts to make patterns out of random data as it tries to interpret it. Evolutionary theories suggest we are pre-programmed to recognise faces, both for protection and defence. Religious theories suggest these patterns come from higher sources. This includes a woman who saw the face of Jesus on a tortilla in 1978; thousands trekked to rural New Mexico to worship it.