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© David Butts, 2010
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Driftwood Faces

Pareidolia. Although I suspect most people have never heard this word, I am quite sure that practically everyone has experienced it! This refers to the human tendency to see shapes in random patterns. The commonest example is that almost everyone at some time or other has "seen" shapes in the clouds. Pareidolia is sometimes used very specifically to refer to the tendency to see faces in abstract forms. It is thought that this is an evolutionary trait that allowed strong and rapid bonding between mothers and babies, and that this trait, over the past million or so years has allowed newborn infants to prosper. Over our evolutionary past, the ability to recognize faces has often meant the difference between survival or death, so it is understandable that our brains have developed this face recognition system so well, and it is believed that some distinct part of the brain may be involved in this function. This probably explains why we recognize faces so much more than we remember names to put to those faces!

I came across this piece of driftwood one day while at Nanoose Bay, and immediately saw many faces in the wood. A couple of the faces in particular were so tortured that it brought to mind the famous painting "The Scream" by Edvard Munch. Spend some time and see how many faces you can find!

[photo for week of 19 July 2010]

© David Butts, 2010

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