What is pareidolia and why is it important in the study of the Shroud?
Pareidolia is a very natural psychological tendency to see images in random patterns. Frequently, people see patterns with which they are most familiar. Faces are common and hence people often see images of Jesus or Mary on tortillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, wood grain and dirt and oil on surfaces.
The Shroud of Turin is no exception. People have identified lettering, coins, flowers, teeth, a pigtail, nails and other symbols of the passion story including dice. The most notable are:
The image shown here is famous. Many people see a man holding a big head that some say is an image of Jesus left on the film in the camera. But look closely. The man's forehead is a white bonnet on a baby. The eye of the man is the baby's face. The nose is an arm and the cheek is the baby's gown. The man is holding a baby and there is no reason to think that it is the baby Jesus. Still don't see the baby in this pareidolia picture?
Examples of Pareidolia: