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Pareidolia is the tendency to recognise faces all around us. But what causes it? And where does the phenomenon come from? Science considers facial recognition as being a cognitive bias. Therefore, it means we tend to emphasise our observations, interpretations, and information received as biased and incorrect. According to the researchers, pareidolia “violates the processes of normative reasoning, i.e., contrary to a consistent and valid way of thinking.”

Although facial recognition is relatively harmless, pareidolia is also associated with conformity (an act of matching attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours to group norms, politics or being like-minded). Moreover, it can be linked with confabulation (memory error defined as the production of fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted memories), confusion of information sources (uncertainty about the origin of the information), and confirmation bias (tendency to search for, interpret, favour, and recall information that confirms or support one’s prior personal beliefs or values). Unfortunately, science has not found a proper explanation for the phenomenon.

However, the homo reliquiae theory provides an opportunity to explain the bias with the hereditary defect of the human psyche. It describes the bias as a part of the child’s defence mechanism designed to help a child stick to safe people and avoid strangers by forcing them to look for facial features. It is likely to help the child distinguish safe encounters from suspicious ones. That is a mentally powerful restraint, but apparently, it has been necessary for millions of years for all homo species.

Why do adults have the bias if it only belongs to children? That is clearly due to a genetic defect in our psyche. The same defect also explains the oddities of human sensory perception and cognition. The mind of animals, on the other hand, seem to work ordinarily. For this very reason, it is unfortunate that humans consider standing above animals. Looking at these pictures, one will inevitably become sad to see how foolish we all humans are after all.

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