Humor Pareidolia Religion Skepticism/critical thinking

Looking for the Virgin Mary in all the wrong places

Everyone knows that I’m a bit of a connoisseur of pareidolia. Pareidolia, for those not familiar with the term, is a phenomenon where humans see patterns in various things, you know, like seeing Elvis in a flame or the Virgin Mary on a stain under a freeway overpass in Chicago or in a window blotch in Perth Amboy, or seeing Jesus on a shell, on the wall of a shower, on a sand dune, a potato chip, or (my personal favorite) a pierogi. Heck, there have even been Jesus sightings on a cat, a stain on a ceiling tile, and even on a rather odd location on a dog.

However, I really, really have to question why any believer would advertise having seen the Virgin Mary in this particular stain, much less make a pilgrimage to see it and marvel at it.

I think I liked seeing the Virgin Mary apparition in a Lava Lamp better.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

16 replies on “Looking for the Virgin Mary in all the wrong places”

Wow. Just.. Wow. an oval-shaped blob of bird poo.
And it’s Teh Virgin Mary. Uh Huh. I am reminded of the scene from The Simpsons where Marge is building a scarecrow.
She gets the crossbar set up and goes in to get one of Homer’s old jackets, and as soon as she’s out of the scene Ned Flanders and his sons run up, fall to their knees, and start praying.

But … it looks so much like the autographed photo I bought from the Reverend Billy Sol Mountbanke.

How can we educate people of the fact that, when they are seeing these images of their holy people, they are seeing images created by medieval artists at the behest and instruction of their sponsors. No one knows what the original people looked like and the religious leaders paying for these images wanted them to look like the folks in their congregation.

If PZ Myers had been the first one to suggest that this was a religious image, he would have been accused of all sorts of evil motives. Yet, when someone, who is apparently often thinking religious thoughts, sees a representation of those religious thoughts in bird skid marks, it is a miracle.

Perhaps it was Hazel Motes first recognized this resemblance. I think I see a bit of Cydonia in this, too.

Several years ago, an oval-shaped stain of moisture vaguely resembling the Virgin of Guadalupe (but then, almost any oval resembles the Virgin of Guadalupe) appeared on the floor at a subway station in Mexico City. The stained tile was removed and put in an altar at the station, where it remains to this day. An even more stupid story was a nationwide hysteria of “apparitions” of the Virgin in microwave ovens’ plates three years ago, supposedly prophesied by pope Wojtyla.

As a matter of fact, Mexico is full of improvised altars near oil stains, tree knots, patterns in stones or rocky hills, etc., where people gather and pray, leave flowers, burn candles and perform other acts of devotion; and such petty “apparitions” are reported in news once in a while. Of course, the reporter takes the testimony of the local ignorant devotees at face value, and the closest thing to “skepticism” is a representative of the local (arch)bishop explaining that stains are not proper objects of religious veneration.

And that’s why I think believers won’t consider bird poop too low and filthy for “Our Mother” to show in it, and why I think we Mexicans can’t have nice things.

That’s TX fer ya’!! YEE~F~in’HAW!!
God, Guns and Guts!!
Please, get me out of here!

This evidence does it for me. I have converted. I will from now on take offense at just about anything anyone says.

I used to see the pirate Jean LaFitte in the wood paneling in my parents’ living room. Little did I know that the image was predicting my conversion to Pastafarianism. Yes… touched by His Noodly Appendage at age 8.

Not paredolia, but a buddy of mine just had the “Virgin of Guadalupe” tattooed on his back, pretty much covering it. When he showed me, I asked this hyper-masculine young Latino, “You realize you just had a giant vagina permanently inscribed on your back, right?”

I didn’t get a real response.

From this they get “mono”theism?
And isn’t there something about idolatry in those damn Commandments they keep trying to shove down our throat?

Bird shit worship =! monotheism. Sorry guys, try again later.

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