Biology Humor Pareidolia Science Skepticism/critical thinking

Looking for Jesus in all the wrong places

I have a soft spot for pareidolia, as regular readers know. It amuses me to no end to see Jesus and Mary popping up on freeway underpasses, tacos, toast, pieces of sheet metal, Lava Lamps, and the like. I thought that I had seen it all–until now:

His image has been seen on rocks, windows – even a tortilla as recently as Ash Wednesday.
Now, in the days leading up to Easter Sunday, it appears yet another strange image of Jesus has emerged.

Erika Scheldt, 24, claims she photographed a stingray with a glistening depiction of Christ on its back after it washed ashore a South Carolina beach on Friday.

The dead cownose stingray washed up on the beach at James Island, Ms Scheldt told The Island Packet.

But even she was skeptical at first.

‘I just kind of thought it looked like a bearded homeless man.

Which rather describes Jesus, don’t you think? Wasn’t he, in essence, a bearded homeless man? Even believers have to concede that, given that Jesus didn’t, as far as we know, have a fixed address.

Erika would have had it right the first time, but then enter her friends:

‘But when I posted pictures on Instagram, one of my friends was like, “That’s Jesus.” And I was like, “Oh, my God. You’re right,”‘ she said.

Judge for yourself:


All hail Stingray Jesus!

Personally, as is so often the case with pareidolia, I think it looks like Treebeard:

Really, to me the image looks more like Treebeard:


Or Gandalf, or Saruman, or…well, you get the idea. I do admit, though, that I am rather Lord of the Rings-centric in my pareidolia. I guess that, from a neuroscience standpoint, it’s just another anecdote that goes to show that what you read into patterns depends on what you value.

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]

2 replies on “Looking for Jesus in all the wrong places”

#23 Denice: And look out for that burled wood paneling. Those little demon bastards are everywhere!

It’s kind of like how everything looks phallic. Everything looks like Jesus, apparently.

Gandolf popped up in my head. My dad was a fan of fantasy novels when I was a kid, so I’ve seen many a novel covers with a similar face.

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