150 Years of the word Pareidolia

The term pareidolie was introduced by the German psychiatrist, Karl Ludwig Kahlbaum in articles published in 1865[1] and 1866[2].

Then, in an 1867 British medical journal article reviewing Dr. Kahlbaum’s article (The Journal of Mental Science, Volume 13)[3], the German word Pareidolie was translated into English as pareidolia. Although the word is rarely found in general dictionaries, it has a long history in psychiatry.

Pareidolia has been getting more popular lately with it being added to dictionaries as recent as February 2017 – specifically the Merriam-Webster dictionary!


  1. :  the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern

Around here we prefer the word Extractionism to pareidolia  – which has a leaning towards this as an error in seeing.

This research was done using https://books.google.com/ngrams and information from http://www.obtusebard.org


[1] “Die verschiedenen Formen der Sinnesdelirien. Ein Beitrag zur Erweiterung der psychiatrischen Symptomatologie und zur psysiologischen Psychologie.” by K. Kahlbaum. Centralblatt für die medicinishchen Wissenschaften, No. 57, 23 December 1865. p. 908ff.

[2] “Die Sinnesdelirien” by Dr. Kahlbaum. Allgemeine Zeitschrift fürPsychiatrie und psychisch-gerichtliche Medicin, Volume 23. Berlin, 1866. p. 81. In German the word is pareidolie.

[3] “On Delusions of the Senses” review by John Sibbald, MD. The Journal of Mental Science, Volume 13, Number 26, July, 1867, p. 235 ff.

Why can’t I use FB as my page?

     Many are waking up to a very different Facebook, asking, “Why can’t I use Facebook as my page?”!  Last night some time my FB changed and I am no longer able to navigate the platform as one of the seven pages I manage.  Apparently this has happened to some accounts more than a year ago, and more accounts are just catching up – I guess I was lucky to have it the old way for as long as I did!
     After some research, I found a workaround. You can still do the things that were once possible, just not as convenient as it used to be.
     Okay, here is the way you work it now, from Boo Rhodes:
  • “Use your personal page to login to facebook and then when on the page you wish to like you click on the ellipsis (3 dots) next to the page info and select “Like as Page.”

facebook help2oldmaninthepeanut

  • “If you are also wanting to see the feeds from other pages, visit your page that you admin and on the left side click on “view pages feed” then you can see what everyone just from your business likes are posting.”

Thanks Boo Rhodes, otherwise known as Geekmom!

Modern Peanut’s Wild Cousin, Thought Extinct, Found!

serveimageOkay, here’s the big question… Do Arachis duranensis & Arachis ipaensis have a well-formed embryo the way the modern peanut (Arachis hypogaea) does?!?


The gist:

The modern peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is the result of the hybridization of two older types of Andean peanut. It has 20 pairs of chromosomes—the total from both old species, which have 10 chromosomes each. Scientists always thought—a suspicion now confirmed—that the “parents” of this peanut were the variants Arachis duranensis, very common in the Andean foothills between northwestern Argentina and southeastern Bolivia, and Arachis ipaensis, a species that had been reported but unconfirmed in a Bolivian town several hundred kilometers north, but thought to be extinct, until now. Read more.


The nitty gritty:

Cultivated peanut (Arachis hypogaea) is an allotetraploid with closely related subgenomes of a total size of ~2.7 Gb. This makes the assembly of chromosomal pseudomolecules very challenging. As a foundation to understanding the genome of cultivated peanut, we report the genome sequences of its diploid ancestors (Arachis duranensis and Arachis ipaensis). We show that these genomes are similar to cultivated peanut’s A and B subgenomes and use them to identify candidate disease resistance genes, to guide tetraploid transcript assemblies and to detect genetic exchange between cultivated peanut’s subgenomes. On the basis of remarkably high DNA identity of the A. ipaensis genome and the B subgenome of cultivated peanut and biogeographic evidence, we conclude that A. ipaensis may be a direct descendant of the same population that contributed the B subgenome to cultivated peanut. Read more.

The Year of the Face Swap

I read an article today about an artist out of Houston whose Instagram account was suspended.  He morphs faces of well recognized people and it may be why it was shut down.  Instagram has since apologized and reinstated his account but it left me thinking…

With everyone using the face swapping app this year I was inspired to create this character: Donhil.

Here is more about the Houston artist that inspired me.

A coloring party – oh, the fun you’ll have!

I come to your location, set up 30 minutes in advance – folding tables with clipboards, paper, and color pencils/crayons atop.
I give a quick spiel on recognizing resemblances and how it helped me discover the Old Man in the Peanut. I share how it all started with me turning scribbles into art and then run right into having you scribble. You will transform it into art using color and shading and there will also be prints of my drip paintings to color in.
An art show too. I bring some framed pieces as examples of what I’ve found in the random lines.


You come to my space at William Canon & Manchaca and we can have the fun there. Space for 16.

Coloring station at RAW ‘Futures’ exposition March 2016 @ the Belmont Austin, Texas Photography credit : ISAAK GONZALEZ • Lead Photographer ALYSSA VILLEGAS • Assistant Photographer


Lead photo: That time R.B. Bbhoggawact, the ACC Riverbat, showed up at my scribble station! https://www.facebook.com/ACCRiverbat/

Abstract Extractionism – an art movement!

Despite humans seeing this way since the beginning of time, did you know pareidolia was only first used in 1994 by Steve Goldstein? I believe it does not accurately define what is happening with this action.
I like to say that it is Extractionism: the art of recognizing resemblances, extracting and subsequently presenting them (no need for weird words like apophenia, simulacra, pareidolia, paranoiac-critical method). Resemblances exist whether we discover them or not and are part of a universal law that micro mirrors macro.
This is the technique I used to discover the Old Man in the Peanut!.This meta label now allows other fields to be coupled under one umbrella concerning a very specific way of looking at the world, such as a psychoanalytical tool (Rorschach), biomimicry, camouflage, analogy, eggcorns/mondegreens, the visual pun, constellations, peanut carvings, tea leaf reading, Makapansgat pebble, & droodles just to name a few! One could not mention these under the heading ‘pareidolia’.
By the way, Extractionism is one of the few artforms, if not the only, that is regularly covered by international news agencies!! When an Extractionist discovers a resemblance and gives it life, especially if it is a Striking Resemblance, it will go viral. Consider a recent example:
Marja-Terttu Karlsson, 52, from Pajala in northern Sweden is a photographer who has captured the uncanny shape of a celestial animal resembling a wolf rising from earth into the sky.

Watch the video.

See more of Marja photography.