Pareidolia and Paranoia Among Fraggers and Trenchers and the Birth of Reverters
March 25, 2015
Clara is explaining: “Pareidolia [pair-uh-dole-ee-uh] is a type of apophenia [ap-poh-feen-ee-uh: perceiving patterns or connections in random or meaningless data] involving the perception of images or sounds in random stimuli. Many of us experience what we think is a ringing phone while taking a shower, for example. The running water gives us a noisy background from which our brains perceive there to be the patterned sound of a ringing phone.”
“Okay,” I respond, considering. “So, when we perceive human faces in inanimate objects, or animal and human bodies in clouds or constellations, or humans' speech sounds within white noise, that's what you mean by pareidolia. Right?”
“Yes, Espe.” Clara puts on a very bad British accent, which I believe is supposed to remind me of Rex Harrison as Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, to say “I think she's got it!”
Clara wiggles and lights up when her explanations work well. She sometimes even claps her hands.
Clara spends so many years teaching. That is what I attribute her over-the-top enthusiasm for others' learning or her own instructor powers to.
I'm not that stupid....
“Pareidolia causes humans—and perhaps other sentients—to misperceive outer phenomena, attributing characteristics to what we perceive that do not actually belong to each phenomenon. It's not only occurring in outer phenomena, either,” she continues.
Maybe I am a little stupid....Compared to Clara.
“You lost me there.”
“Sorry. Jumping ahead. Look!” Clara pulls down a vid screen from the air.
Mick teaches her to do that. So cool. I want one.
“The Fraggers and Trenchers are certain they are right. They believe they are logical, that they are interpreting data and perceiving patterns of behavior from the data. They are not unintelligent, merely misguided, mostly. Then, to make matters worse, they're misguiding themselves via pareidolia. They mistake correlation for causation, a common fallacy.”
She points to two curving lines on a graph, one slightly lower than the other, but each is similar in length and curvature to the other.
“I know about that,” I jump in, more confident, now. “The data go along together, occurring simultaneously According to Linear Time, or one precedes the other ALT. Rather than see those two data occurrences as separate but correlated via proximity or time sequence, some assume one causes the other, even though they have no other evidence to prove that.”
There she goes. Clapping her hands. Mama mía.
She frowns when she sees my face and stops clapping.
“Sorry, Espe. I forget.”
I shrug. “It's all right, Clara. You can't help it. Go on.”
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