Wednesday’s Word (#23)

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For today’s ‘Wednesday’s Word’, I’m highlighting a term that I just discovered yesterday thanks to a game I downloaded on my phone. I know you’re probably thinking, “But you read! How can you betray the universe by playing games? Oh, the humanity!” Or actually, probably not. People can have lots of hobbies.

Anyway, the game in question called ‘Lifeline‘. It’s a text-based game, meaning that I don’t have to try to run out of harm’s way every few seconds. [Notice how I used the word “try” there? Not a mistake.]

The game features an astronaut whose ship crashed on a moon somewhere far away in space and you are the only person who’s able to communicate with him. How? I don’t know. Who are “you”? I don’t know that either. But basically your character communicates with Taylor and chooses an option for him every time he hits a fork in the road: breakfast or investigate the perimeter alarm? Take a painkiller for your throbbing shoulder or just suck it up because there are only three, Taylor! Why he listens to you, I’m not totally sure. But I digress.


This week’s word is…

Pareidolia
/ˌpæraɪˈdəʊlɪə/
n. the imagined perception of a pattern or meaning where it does not actually exist, as in considering the moon to have human features [as defined by Dictionary.com]

'Pareidolia' photograph by iamliam

Pareidolia‘ by iamliam is licensed under CC by 2.0

I never knew that there was a word for this phenomenon! It doesn’t have to be human features–it can be any sort of pattern that isn’t really meaningful–but if you see the Virgin Mary in your toast, that’s pareidolia. If you start finding faces in appliances…well, you get the drill. I was so pleasantly surprised to discover this word, and in a game no less! [If you’re curious, I thought that ‘Lifeline’ had good writing overall. It was an interesting premise, though it did remind me a bit of The Martian in parts.]

If you want to read up more about the phenomenon here’s a 2013 article from BBC News, and I’m sure there are plenty of other resources online.

Happy Wednesday!

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