Pareidolia can be dangerous when it gets religious or political: Jesus on toast may be one thing, but what if a rusty sacred water stain dripped down the front facade of your public county courthouse and believers came flocking? IN THIS EPISODE: What Does ‘Pareidolia’ Mean & Why is it Dangerous? | Celebrity Suicides | David’s Book Deal is Back On | Fixing Garage Floor Divots | David Learns Prison Martial Arts. WHAT IS PAREIDOLIA? [Wiktionary] Pareidolia is the tendency to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the observer, such as interpreting marks on Mars as canals, seeing shapes in clouds, or hearing hidden messages in reversed music. This behavior exists because humans seek to create meaning when meaning is absent, I suppose. And perhaps it’s no danger to see a teddy bear in the clouds or a man in the moon. Those are functional. Whimsical. Harmless. In fact, some scientists opine that pareidolia is an indicator of an efficient brain attempting to identify patterns in the environment. This is good. This is survival – it’s situational awareness, to a limit…  DANGERS OF PAREIDOLIA. Pareidolia isn’t just about seeing faces, though. It’s about interpreting any vague stimulus as meaningful. If you have a headache and feel tired, it wouldn’t take more than 10 minutes on the Internet to match your symptoms to an exhaustive list of mild to terminal medical conditions. In this instance, a type of pre-suasion exists in which the person is already primed to seek bad news. A simple television commercial can convince people that they are afflicted with a condition. Context and situation influence pareidolia. What do you expect when you gingerly tour a haunted house? That creaky door might be a sign from a spirit – or a just a hinge in need of oil. WHAT IS APOPHENIA? Apophenia can be considered as a blessing as well as curse. It is because of this tendency that we can explore new things, but sometimes it may mislead us. It stems from the fact that we humans are always looking for meaning in our life. We often believe that everything happens for a reason. Well, most times, it could be that things are totally unrelated, and yet we won't let go of our relentless pursuit to find a connection. That is apophenia. It is well documented as a rationalization for gambling. Gamblers may imagine that they see patterns in the numbers that appear in lotteries, card games, or roulette wheels. One variation of this is known as the "gambler's fallacy". The Mayan Calendar also contributed to “End-of-Times” apophenia for some people that perceived clear connections between the calendar end date, stock market crash, increase in hurricanes, and any myriad of other events that were destructive, but not necessarily connected incidents. Dr. Perrodin advises asking "Does this makes sense?" and using member checks as strategies to avoid rampant pareidolia or apophenia. FOLLOW DR. PERRODIN: Twitter @SafetyPhD and subscribe to The Safety Doc YouTube channel & Apple Podcasts. SAFETY DOC WEBSITE & BLOG: David will respond to comments & emails. The Safety Doc Podcast is hosted & produced by David Perrodin, PhD. ENDORSEMENTS. Opinions are those of the host & guests and do not reflect positions of The 405 Media or supporters of “The Safety Doc Podcast”. The show adheres to nondiscrimination principles while seeking to bring forward productive discourse & debate on topics relevant to personal or institutional safety. Email David: LOOKING FOR DR. TIMOTHY LUDWIG, PHD? Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at

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