Thursday, July 13, 2006

Patterns from the Void

In an effort to find things to discuss on this blog, I'm frequently looking through many sites. Recently, I've been doing this while waiting for the computer to finish running a script (which takes a few minutes), so instead of writing up a full post right then and there, I generally Email myself links to remind myself of potential topics. It's also nice in that it gives me some time to compose my thoughts.

Today I noticed that a number of the links I'd sent myself all seem to have a common theme, namely that people like to attribute meaning to imagined patterns in something that is completely random. Given that this ability is so frequent, I'll have to ask forgivness if I start sounding a bit ranty.

A number of the sources I look at recently have been reporting about an egg that was laid that bears the name "Allah" in Arabic. Being the skeptic that I am, I wanted to see just how clearly this was written out. Unfortunately, Reuters (the site on which I found the story) didn't have a picture. So I did some digging and here's what I found:

To me, no distinguishable pattern jumps out at me. But then again, I wasn't sure what "Allah" looks like in Arabic. Fortunately, google was able to provide answers. "Allah" looks like this:

So now I know what I'm looking for. Looking back at the egg, I'm still not seeing it. Not discouraged, I went to seek out a website on which someone had better imagination eyes than I and would point it out.

Back to google it was! Sadly, I wasn't able to find a single website that could point it out to me. But what I did find was a website that found squiggly double u's all over the place! Perhaps I should rethink this whole atheism thing and convert to Islam.

But wait. What about all those occurances of Christian symbols I mentioned at the beginning of my post?! Surely that must be a sign that Christianity is the one true religion!

So the hunt to see which religion can claim the most vaguely reminiscant religious iconography was on!

Back to google, I searched for "Jesus appears in" and to see how our good friendly loving Christians were doing.

Apparently he doesn't have anything to do besides appear in wardrobes (ooh naughty), a spit take, dental x-rays, car winshields, a rock for sale on Ebay, a plant, a waterstain in someone's shower, and a whole bunch of trees.

But let's not forget that Jesus isn't the only Christian figure that's prone to popping up in unexpected places. I'd heard of the Virgin Mary showing up occiasionally, so I did a quick search for "Mary appears in". Seems she has been known to frequent window glares, mirrors, and like her son, water stains.

And then I found this site and quit. That sight has enough images to hands down report that Christians are the most gullable likely group to recieve miracles. Thus, I'm officially declaring myself Christian. After all, none of the images could possibly be hoaxes or simply reading too much into things. Right?

That'd be a nice thing to believe, but sadly, the evidence suggests otherwise. Not too long ago there was a Jesus pancake that appeared for sale on Ebay. True believers jumped all over it, driving the auction to nearly $15,000 before Ebay closed it. So where did the image come from? The trusty Jesus Pan of course.

So it's entirely possible to be taken in by scams. But this doesn't eliminate every sighting out there. However, the ability to see paterns in randomness and assign meaning is astounding. It's why people can find dragons in clouds, or inappropriate gestures in nebulae. It's the ability to assign meaning to nonsense that allows people like Richard Hoagland to "discover" pyramids on mars and other bizzare things. It's this ability that allowed the ancient civilizationt to discern patterns amidst the stars giving us constellations. There's thousands of examples of people assigning meaning to that which has none. But the track record being against them has never stopped someone who really wants to see what isn't there. Reality be damned. It's more fun to believe.

I even had a personal experience with a disturbing sign recently that I thought I'd share. Given the horrendous nature of the dorm food here, I've been frequenting Jack in the Box as of late. But to my surpise, my large Ultimate Cheesburger combo with curly fries gave me an ominous total: $6.66. And did I forget to mention it's the #6 combo? Perhaps God is telling me that I need to lay off the fast food and eat some veggies?


Anonymous said...

Ok. Explain this one.

Jon Voisey said...

Man, and what was I just saying about needing to eat my veggies!

However, I do have a perfectly rational explanation for your well hung carrot: God's trying to compensate.