Welcome back to the CGS Blog. In this episode, we talked about the disappearance of a family of three. As a father it always bothers me a little more when we find out that children are involved. Due to substantial decomposition, no one knows what happens to the family and for once I’m kind of relieved. I think, in a case like this, it’s easier not to know what happened in their final moments.
Disappearances always capture people’s imagination. As I’ve said before people are problem solvers. Part of that problem-solving involves our ability to see patterns. A big short-circuit in our brains is that sometimes, we see patterns where none exist. This metal tick is called pareidolia. You know when someone sees Jesus in their toast or when someone sees a president in a huge, flabby, orange disaster? You can thank your brain being a dick.
While pareidolia is most often associated with visual patterns our brains convert into faces, this can also lead to people creating patterns in other situations. For instance, Alex “Screaming Shirtless Ape” Jones could very easily be described as someone who exhibits signs of extreme pareidolia. He receives stimulus, like learning about fluoride in our water and assumes it’s turning frogs gay. While that’s not a typical response for normal human adults, it’s not without the realm of possibility that some people might make some leaps. I could use this as a segway to jump into the many conspiracies about this story but I’d rather take a different angle. Buckle up, I’m going out on a limb.
Pareidolia is not an uncommon trait for certain mental illnesses. The most well-known portrayal of this is the movie, A Beautiful Mind. In it, Russel Crowe portrays a brilliant man suffering from severe schizophrenia. His illness causes him to see codes in the newspaper and cumulates with him inventing a massive conspiracy. It’s not just schizophrenia that claims signs of pareidolia. Drugs have been known to induce psychosis. Bobby Jamison was rumored to be involved in the meth trade which was booming in the part of Oklahoma that they lived in. Witnesses described him as “emaciated” before the family disappeared. Furthermore, Bobby had once asked his pastor if there were special bullets he could use to kill ghosts. Those aren’t the words of a healthy, rational mind. Finally, inside their abandoned truck was $32,000 in cash. Unless they were working on the dark web, drug dealing is a cash business. I am making some big leaps here and I know I sound crazy but no more crazy than ghost bullets.
So what’s the point? The point is, pareidolia is something we deal with all the time. Look at the clouds and you might see a kitten riding a pony or you might see an elaborate gas powered sex toy depending on what kind of life you lead. In other cases, some people might look at the clouds and see the End Of Days. It’s a scary thought that some people suffer that way. I can only imagine the fear. So maybe the next time you see Jesus in your toast, be grateful he’s not telling you to mail your toe nails to Jodie Foster.