Face in the clouds: Pareidolia is comforting to grieving family

Dead Man’s Face Seen in Clouds.

Lismore resident Marion Dawson says a photo of clouds that bear a remarkable resemblance to her late brother Gerry Wells gives her “goosebumps”.

The photo was taken on January 9 at Ocean Shores, on NSW’s far north cost, at the same time as Mr Wells was flying overhead from Brisbane to Sydney to visit family and friends, the Northern Star reports.

Mr Wells, 62, died from a heart attack only a few days later on January 24.

Tip: Fortean Times

So, this face could look like a lot of other faces. This family just found comfort in the coincidental resemblance they saw. They were obviously thinking of him when browsing pictures so the memory was fresh.


  4 comments for “Face in the clouds: Pareidolia is comforting to grieving family

  1. Zim
    February 11, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Our brains are programmed to look for these patterns, and of course it’s a mere coincidence–dead Australians don’t control the weather–but let’s enjoy it. The flip side of pareidolia is that eye is naturally repelled by a poor likeness–the uncanny valley effect–and drawn to good ones. For a chance formation rendered in only two dimensions, that is absolutely a remarkable likeness. I have taken enough art classes in my time to know that most people would have a very difficult time painting a profile so accurate in so many key details. Even the surface tones are pretty consistent.

  2. Fiona
    February 14, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    Thing is, he grew up in the town above which the photo was taken, he was flying to Sydney at the time, and it is an obvious likeness. The other thing is, it was a non-family member who spotted the photo. Everyone can see that it looks like him.

  3. Daran
    February 16, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    A cloud face as distinctive as this should make you stop and think instead of just dismissing it as pareidolia

  4. idoubtit
    February 16, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    We are prone to see faces. This could resemble the face of many people. And, sometimes things DO look just like faces. Not paranormal. No meaning attached. Just “Huh, isn’t that interesting.”

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