Apophenia…Finding meaning in the ‘meaningless’

We all have experienced it..Imagining an elephant in the clouds. Or seeing a bunny’s face on the moon. Recognizing a connection or pattern in numbers and dates..Seeing 11:11 on 11/11..(luckily, no one shall see 13:13 on 13/13!..though I personally don’t think 13 is an unlucky number)..In fact, human brain is extraordinarily developed such that it can conjure up some connection between random objects or meaningless data. This tendency of human mind to perceive meaningful pattern in random data is called ‘Apophenia’.

The term was coined by a German neurologist and psychiatrist named Klaus Conrad. It was used to characterize the onset of delusional thinking in psychosis, and though it is a common human experience, it can also turn into a pathological symptom in  schizophrenia, where imagination and meanings go out of control.

I found this term via google because I’m a sort of meaning-maniac, especially when it comes to finding patterns in numbers and dates (and in life, of course..). We all are nutty in one way or the other. And apophenia is my personal way of ‘being nutty’..I’ve been looking for a good example for apophenia, especially pareidolia (which is recognizing faces or familiar images in unusual places..This too, I do a lot..Perhaps, most of us do..) I got lucky day before yesterday because just as I was folding dried clothes at home, I noticed the shadow shown below :



What do you see?

Well, I see three faces, with the head of two faces starting at the chin of their previous face. I don’t see anything else there, except perhaps you could picture the top of a temple or something..The shadow was actually due to a pile of dried clothes on a chair, waiting to be folded by me..

Let me know if you see something else in the shadow.




Featured image from public domain :

Cloud plume, comet-like by Kaustav Das Modak

16 thoughts on “Apophenia…Finding meaning in the ‘meaningless’

  1. Pingback: Author Interview – David M. Kelly – Mathematics of Eternity & Dead Reckoning And Other Stories (Sci-Fi/Fantasy) | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

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