Woman #1: Oh, that looks just like the Virgin Mary. Helen*, do you see that?
Woman #2: Oh! Ya.
Woman #1: Harry, Harry, look! Doesn’t that look like the Virgin Mary?
Man: No, I’m not religious.
I didn’t laugh out loud. I’m more polite than that. I didn’t even look behind me to figure out who was having the conversation. I just made sure Ben took a picture of the “virgin” after they moved on. That’s why we were at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore after all, to take pictures of ice.
Harry’s statement was such a perfect description of culturally primed pareidolia. I didn’t see a virgin when I looked at the ice either, even though I was able to identify which formation she had to mean. I saw something else.
What are you primed to see?
* Names may have been changed or may be accurate. I don’t actually remember what names were used.