Why Your Brain Thinks This Picture Shows a Giant, Martian Crab Monster

Random Musings

TIME

Think you’re savvy in the ways of social media? OK, which of the following two headlines would be likelier to get your attention?

a) Mars Rover Team Studies Geological Zone With High Silica Content

b) Mysterious Crab Monster Found on Mars!

If you said a), you can probably forget about that job application you sent to Facebook. It’s the crab monster news that, of course, has set social media on fire in the past day, with a real-life, wholly gross image sent back by the Mars Curiosity rover that — when seen up close — does appear to show some sort of giant crab lurking in a cave.

But here’s the less clickable part of that news: It’s definitely not a giant crab lurking in a cave. In fact, it’s just one more example of the sometimes whimsical, always spooky phenomenon known as pareidolia, or the tendency of the brain…

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