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Pareidolia and the Rorschach inkblot test

Pareidolia is the term used when someone sees something that is not there. Such images would include shapes in clouds, Virgin Mary on toast, or monsters in shadows. Pareidolia is not a new concept, people have been seeing images of recognizable things in the common for quite sometime.

Most paranormal and miraculous imagery can be explained away as mere pareidolia. The loch ness monster, haunted houses, bigfoot, and ufo sightings are all samples of pareidolia. However these are not the only things where the psychological phenomena can be seen. Pareidolia is actually encouraged in the psychological test of the Rorschach ink blot test.


The Rorschach test was developed in 1921 by Herman Rorschach. The Rorschach test is a series of ten ink blots of varying patterns and colors. It is believed by many psychologists to be the key to unlocking someone’s psyche. The answers a person gives to the different blobs is supposed to be indicative of their personality. The concept is much akin to palm or tarot card reading. In fact the accuracy of such a test is narrow at best.

The test works by having the viewer explain what they see in the cards. Some people may see animals, others demons, and others may see sex organs. Whatever you see in this cards is indicative of who you are. At least that is the theory. If one takes too long to find something then it counts against you. The same is true if you don’t take long enough. Do to the varying nature of the cards since the development of them their has come a uniform interpretation of the cards. It is in this manner where you have a blob and a given set of interpretations that it is similar to the tarot.

The best thing one can do if they ever have to take the Rorschach test is to not take it. The cards operate on principle of pareidolia and cold reading. It is believed that a psychologist can interpret a patient’s problems from their perceptions of the cards alone. If one has ever read their horoscope then they are aware of the ubiquitous nature of the fortune.

The same is true with Rorschach, although there is one thing it seems many have not considered. Perhaps the reason that astrology, cold reading, and the Rorschach may be accurate is not because people are unique. But rather because we are all uniformly and unabashedly the same. Unique qualities amongst individuals can be found amongst many people. Just look at the friends one keeps. We try too surround ourselves with like interests. So could it be then that these things are often tossed aside as inaccurate; if for no other reason than we were not as unique as we thought.

* “The Rorschach Test Explained”:http://www.deltabravo.net/custody/rorschach.php
* “The Rorschach Inkblot Test, Fortune Tellers, and Cold Reading”:http://www.csicop.org/si/2003-07/rorschach.html
* “Sample of Pareidolia”:http://madonnaofthetoast.blogspot.com/

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