Best pareidolia ever?

Let's see.

We've seen the Virgin Mary on trees, under a freeway overpass in Chicago, a window in Perth Amboy, NJ, and even in the brain. We've seen Jesus himself show up on toast, on a piece of sheet metal, on a potato chip, on a pierogi, on a ceiling tile, and even on a cat. Heck, we've even seen Elvis Presley on a rock and Pope John Paul II in a flame.

What could be left?

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Stupid Evil Bastard tells me it's Lava Lamps, maaaan:

AN Australian man says the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus have appeared in his lava lamp and ever since the "miracle" his life has been blessed.

The man who identified himself only as John Smith of Sydney has set up a shrine to the lava lamp in his home and also the holymarylamp.com website.

"This is a true, tangible miracle that is not just an optical illusion. It is visible in all directions and permanently frozen in this shape," he told news.com.au.

"This happened about a year ago and I have kept the lamp hidden since. I now want the world to know of its existence."

Naturally, since discovering this most holy of miracles, Mr. Smith noted a complete turnaround in his life:

"I had been going through a tough time and was paying for a sign ... a divine sign from God that I was not alone and that all would work out fine," he explains on the website.

"I turned on my brand new lava lamp and watched in awe as the unmistakeable image of the Holy Mary cradling the Baby Jesus appeared."

The image took his breath away.

"I immediately turned off the lamp and the lava has remained in this position ever since."

After the revelation of the lava lamp Mr Smith said his life turned around.

"Only a couple of weeks after Holy Mary appeared to me in the lava lamp every facet of my life began to miraculously transform," he said.

"I met the most incredible woman, my angel here on earth."

Mr Smith believes there is no doubt that the lava lamp led him to his soul mate who had been praying for a miracle herself on the other side of Sydney.

"Since then we have gotten engaged, phenomenal job offers have come flooding in, money keeps presenting itself and we are blessed by the warmth and love of angels constantly protecting and guiding us."

Unfortunately, the reporter interviewed a nasty skeptic from the Australian Skeptics, who pointed out that this was nothing more than pareidolia. Obviously, he's a heathen unbeliever and will not believe it when the inevitable reports of this Holy Lava Lamp curing the ills, even cancer, of believers who gaze upon its wonder start surfacing. And you just know they will start surfacing, probably later this year.

Of course, I always thought that these people must think God, if he exists, to be very, very small indeed if they think he'd go around showing himself in Lava Lamps, potato chips, fried fish, ceilings, and the like. I mean, wouldn't the creator of the universe have better things to do with his time and powers?

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This was so good that I just couldn't resist. Yesterday, I did a quick post about an amusing bit of pareidolia, in which the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus were seen in a Lava Lamp. Apparently, an Australian man going by the pseudonym of John Smith noticed the shape in the wax as he fired up a brand…
Everyone knows that I'm a bit of a connoisseur of pareidolia. Pareidolia, for those not familiar with the term, is a phenomenon where humans see patterns in various things, you know, like seeing Elvis in a flame or the Virgin Mary on a stain under a freeway overpass in Chicago or in a window blotch…
I have to admit that I've always had a soft spot for pareidolia, that phenomenon wherein people see things that aren't there because human brains are wired for pattern recognition. As a child (and even as an adult), I loved lazily looking up at the clouds and envisioning animals, objects, and…
Everyone knows how much I live pareidolia. It never ceases to amaze me how the human mind can impose imagery on everyday things. We've seen Jesus on toast, on sheet metal, in rocks, on trees, and in windows. We've seen the Virgin Mary on a similar bunch of things--even a Lava lamp or a freeway…

If people have been paying the man money to see the miracle of the Virgin Mary manifesting herself as a shapeless blob, then I can see why he would say his life had been turned around.

My first thought was it looks like a pointing finger.

"This happened about a year ago and I have kept the lamp hidden since. I now want the world to know of its existence."

Strange ... I would have expected him to heed Mark 4:21 and not hide his lamp.

This cracked me up:

"I had been going through a tough time and was paying for a sign ... a divine sign from God that I was not alone and that all would work out fine," he explains on the website.
"I turned on my brand new lava lamp and watched in awe as the unmistakeable image of the Holy Mary cradling the Baby Jesus appeared."

The dude is having a tough time. So he goes out and buys a brand new lava lamp?

Good thing Mary showed up right away! Otherwise he wasted good money he probably didn't have!

I'm sure he's gonna charge admission, but does anyone else think he's a shill for Big Lava Lamp?

I knew it! Mary in a lava lamp means God wants me to smoke pot and take LSD and listen to Pink Floyd while living with my parents! AWESOME!

wait, hold it. there are brand new lava lamps being made?! that's the man's miracle, right there!

By Nomen Nescio (not verified) on 18 Jan 2009 #permalink

not to rain on his parade or anything, but the nature of a lava lamp is that it cannot stay in one shape for long.
Convection. It's one of those pesky laws of physics.

This little lava lamp of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine!

By Robster, FCD (not verified) on 18 Jan 2009 #permalink

DLC: only if he kept it powered on. If you read the article carefully, you'll see that he turned it off as soon as he saw the image. With no heat source, the wax solidified in that shape. Now, I wouldn't bump it too hard, but otherwise there's no reason it can't hold the shape indefinitely.

@Inquisitive Raven : Indeed. In fact, when I saw he said it had stayed in that shape ever since I thought "wait a minute, that is a miracle". And then I arrived to the bit where he says he turned it off immediately. Funny how so many miracles turn out to be not so miraculous after all.

By Caravelle (not verified) on 19 Jan 2009 #permalink

Ok,

I've been reading numerous comments about this lamp, and I must admit, the assumptions some people make are so far off track it's incredible.

Firstly, its my lamp, yes, I am JOHN SMITH.

To answer some of the posts here...

1. Chines.... I said I had been going through a tough time. I did NOT say a FINANCIALLY tough time... so why make your assumption??

2. DLC. The nature of WAX is that it remains in SOLID form INDEFINATELY provided it is kept below its melting temperature.

At room temperature the image will remain like this indefinately. It has been the same for the past 18 months. Of course if I turned it on again it would MELT..

Pesky laws of physics... it would help if you knew those laws accurately...

3. SWT... one of the criteria the vatican uses to verify an appearance is GENUINE is that the person who sees it keeps it to himself, which I have done for over 18 months.

4. Zeno, nobody is paying me money, nobody knows who I am. The lamp is NOT for sale and NEVER will be. The website is FREE and anyone can view it for FREE.

5. Orac, God says he manifests himself in all things from the great Galaxies to the tiniest ANT. Read Job, and Read Psalms...

So why not a lava lamp..?

Do you know the story of the israelites going into battle? they looked for signs in the sheep skin, if it was wet in the morning they would win the battle, if it was dry, they would lose...

Regards

John Smith

Can anybody (other than the original nut) actually SEE anything in that? I've been examining it for a while, and I get absolutely nothing.

"Do you know the story of the israelites going into battle? they looked for signs in the sheep skin, if it was wet in the morning they would win the battle, if it was dry, they would lose... "

So basically, if the sheep had been rolling around in the dew, then they'd win? What? LOL.

Myths are funny.

I mean, wouldn't the creator of the universe have better things to do with his time and powers?

Well the bloke's supporters claims he's omniscient and omnipotent, so I guess he can do as many things as he wants to with his time and powers. No scarcity problem.

Re: "wouldn't the creator of the universe have better things to do with his time and powers?'
Of course he does. didn't you see the NFC Championship game? He was busy helping Kurt Warner go to the Superbowl!

By Peter E Dant (not verified) on 19 Jan 2009 #permalink

Scott, I see two men embracing.

God has become progressively less powerful over time. Smiting cities, raising the dead, sending bears to eat disrespectful kids eventually becomes showing up in window smudges and putting mum in a wax glob.

John Smith, did you know about having to keep a "miracle" secret before you saw the apparition? I wouldn't say that that means you have been miracle farming, but...

By Robster, FCD (not verified) on 19 Jan 2009 #permalink

I recall that lava lamps take a few minutes to warm up before they actually start working. I would think that it might take a few minutes for the heat to dissipate, too. Would turning off a lava lamp immediately halt the glob from moving?

Apparently the guy claims that he saw the Mary-glob, then switched off the lamp. Seems this would be an easy claim to test. Anyone have a lava lamp?

The lava lamp Mary & Child is far from convincing - just a blob with a curvy outline. There is far better below:

You seem to have missed the true miracle image revelation of recent times, at http://getbehindjesus.net/.

Sorry, I can't tell you what it is without spoiling it!

By Domain Rider (not verified) on 19 Jan 2009 #permalink

@ John Smith

3. SWT... one of the criteria the vatican uses to verify an appearance is GENUINE is that the person who sees it keeps it to himself, which I have done for over 18 months.

Ummm ... I was attempting to be humorous.

My bad.

I hate to say this, but I think it looks like a dildo.

No, that lava lamp isn't showing Mary and Jesus. It's clearly showing my sister-in-law holding my niece. Or, maybe it's me holding a sack of potatoes.

Regarding the nature of wax: Even Glass sags over time mr Smith, in your own words
"Pesky laws of physics... it would help if you knew those laws accurately..."

"nobody is paying me money" poor unemployed bloke, what kind of blessing is that?

"nobody knows who I am" You are John Smith of Sydney Australia, steerike three!

"all things from the great Galaxies" modern translation problem, nowhere do I recall the concept of Galaxy in my reading, more likely referenced as the heavens.

By Mean Streak (not verified) on 22 Jan 2009 #permalink

Regarding the nature of wax: Even Glass sags over time mr Smith, in your own words
"Pesky laws of physics... it would help if you knew those laws accurately..."

Oh please, not the "sagging glass" myth again. Glass is an amorphous solid, not a "super viscous liquid".

Hey, I actually saw that image in Perth Amboy, NJ. The apartment was a couple of blocks away from where I worked at one of the local elementary schools, so I went to check it out on my lunch break. It looked like the smear left by cleaning products which were not completely wiped free of the window. But man there were many "believers" hanging out at the site. Silly!

"2. DLC. The nature of WAX is that it remains in SOLID form INDEFINATELY provided it is kept below its melting temperature.

At room temperature the image will remain like this indefinately. It has been the same for the past 18 months. Of course if I turned it on again it would MELT..

Pesky laws of physics... it would help if you knew those laws accurately..."

"Regarding the nature of wax: Even Glass sags over time mr Smith,"

"Oh please, not the "sagging glass" myth again. Glass is an amorphous solid, not a "super viscous liquid"."

It would help everyone if we all knew the Laws of Physics. Wax, like glass, does not undergo a phase change as it solidifies, ie. it is plastic. Its form can only remain indefinitely in zero gravity conditions. Crystalline solids can retain their form if shear and other stresses are insufficient to overcome the lattice energy it acquires in a phase change from liquid to solid.

I've dumbed this down a bit to keep the essentials clear.