Perception of Faces

Perception of faces - Page 1

Scientists who study face perception currently disagree strongly over whether newborn babies innately know what human faces look like and whether certain brain areas are solely responsible for distinguishing one face from another. This was taken from an article in Science News. What is clear is that we recognise faces from a very early age and this ability stays with us for all of our lives. Who hasn't seen the "man in the moon" or faces in clouds or in the burning embers of a fire?

The name for this is pareidolia, which means "The erroneous or fanciful perception of a pattern or meaning in something that is actually ambiguous or random." (Wordspy)

This page takes a look at some of these images of faces, whether they be in clouds, smoke, fire, pictures of landscapes or whatever. I haven't put them here to prove or disprove the existence of God, the devil, angels, ghosts or anything else, they are here because, like the other subjects on this site, I find them interesting.

Bust and mould of face

Bust and mould of face
Take a look at the picture above. It shows a face and a mould taken of it. A hollow face is so unusual that we see it as normal.


Storm Cloud

The image is of a funnel cloud and a fallen tree
The picture was taken during a 1997 tornado in Jarrell, Texas or maybe Orlando, Florida or ...
I've seen several locations for this photograph
In May 2004, I got an email from jd who lived in Austin, Texas and confirms that the photograph was taken in Jarrell, Texas.
He should know, he was driving down the highway the same day this photograph was taken!

Hand of God

Turning the image 90 degrees we get the "Hand of God"

cloud face 1

Cloud Face 1

Cloud face 2

Cloud Face 2


In December 2005 I got an email from Jeff who sent me an interesting image from Google Earth. When I downloaded and installed the program the first thing to strike me was this image of the United States...

Face in the US

Can you see the face in the centre of this image?
The "mouth" is just about where Denver is.
Google Earth - "Fly To" Denver, US or 40.5N,104.5W then zoom out to around 1500 miles.

The image Jeff emailed me about however was this one...

Indian Face?

Can you see the face just left of centre?
Google Earth - "Fly To" 50.0104N 110.1147W then zoom out to around 30,000ft.

This range of hills is around 25 miles east of Great Falls / Medicine Hat, Montana.

Indian Face?

Google Earth - "Fly To" 50.0104N 110.1147W then zoom out to around 5,000ft.


Girl in the Mountain - Cerros de Escazu, San Jose, Costa Rica

The Girl in the Mountain
Cerros de Escaz? San Jos? Costa Rica

Face in strata

Face in strata


Mars has always produced some odd illusions. Between 1895 and 1917 Percival Lowell mapped 700 canals on the surface of the planet. Today theories abound about whether it is hollow, if there are trees there as well as pyramids and even a representation of Mickey Mouse. One of the most talked about is the Face, in the Cydonia region. It was first photographed in 1976 by the Viking Orbiter. NASA re-photographed the region in 1978 using the Mars Global Surveyor and found that the Face was a trick of the light.

Face on Mars - 1976

Face on Mars - 1976 image from the Viking Orbiter


Jesus in the snow

Jesus in the Snow

This photograph was taken in China and shows snow melting. It is said that the photographer turned to Christianity because of this photograph.


The Moon

The Moon

Cone Nebula (NGC 2264)

Cone Nebula

Cone Nebula (NGC 2264)
Image from NASA's Hubble site
It was taken in 2002

This picture, taken by the newly installed Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, shows the upper 2.5 light-years of the nebula, a height that equals 23 million roundtrips to the Moon. The entire nebula is 7 light-years long. The Cone Nebula resides 2,500 light-years away in the constellation Monoceros. The Cone Nebula lies in the southern part of NGC 2264, the Christmas Tree cluster

Eagle Nebula (M16)

Eagle Nebula

Eagle Nebula (M16)
Image from NASA's Hubble site
It was taken 1st April 1995

Eagle Nebula (M16)

Eagle Nebula (M16)
Enlargement of the top of the left hand pillar from the photograph above

Eagle Nebula (M16)

Eagle Nebula (M16)
The image above turned 90 degrees anticlockwise
The face appears at the top of the gas cloud

This page created 28th June 2002, last modified 12th September 2008

GoStats stats counter