Uncommon Knowledge

Uncommon Knowledge: Why is there a man in the moon?

April 11, 2013

There’s a man in the moon because you put him there. Specifically, part of your brain put him there. Dr. Doris Tsao, a neuroscientist from Germany, was doing research on stroke victims and discovered that some patients were able to recognize and identify any object except for faces. This suggested to her that facial recognition may occur in a very specific part of the brain. Testing showed her theory to be true, and further research has created a list of twelve visual attributes that cause these facial-related parts of the brain to activate. The hitch is that, if any object exhibits enough of these characteristics, our brains automatically identify a face even where none actually exists. Thus, we tend to see faces staring back at us from electrical outlets, grilled cheese sandwiches, or even the craters of the moon.

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