Have you ever seen a cloud that looks like an animal? How about what seemed to be a human face on a rock? You may have noticed a strange pattern on a slice of bread. If yes, then you are already familiar with such a phenomenon as pareidolia.

face on the moon

Today we will be looking at three key questions:

  • What is pareidolia?
  • Why do some people see a face on the moon?
  • Do computers have pareidolia?

What is pareidolia? People tend to see patterns on random objects. Often this means seeing human faces on inanimate objects. But it also includes watching other forms in strange places.


One very common example of pareidolia is the full moon. Have you ever looked closely at the moon? Have you seen the face looking at you? Many people say yes. Of course, this is actually a random arrangement of craters. However, for generations, people have enjoyed the sight of a friendly face in space.

The moon is not the only pattern to be found in the night sky. Some people think that the constellations appeared due to pareidolia. Observing patterns on the stars, such as Ursa Major, people continued to look for other images in space.

shapes in the clouds

In the picture of the surface of Mars in 1976, we even managed to see the face! Of course, it was actually a mountain. But the world is full of other examples. People see shapes and faces in the texture of wood, in lightning, and even in the folds of fabric! Some even associate pareidolia with religion. One famous example is the cheese sandwich, which some say looks like the face of the Virgin Mary. You can admire the fantasy of space pareidolia in a separate selection.

What causes pareidolia?

Is it a mental disorder? No, definitely not. Experts agree that the human brain is looking for patterns – this is normal. This helps us identify new objects. Some believe that early humans evolved to quickly see and recognize faces. This skill has helped survival and has retained its relevance to the present day.

fancy tree

Whatever the cause, pareidolia doesn’t seem to stop at people. The technologies we have created also see faces where there are none. Have you ever used the Face Swap feature on a smartphone app? If yes, then you understand what is meant. Computers often find faces on random objects like rocks.

Companies are still developing facial recognition software today. Building computers that can correctly detect human faces is likely to become one of the major challenges in engineering.

Have you ever experienced pareidolia? Most people have it at one time or another. The next time you look at the moon, clouds, or other inanimate object, let your mind wander. You never know what pattern he might spot!