More often than one would expect some very trivial headlines pop up in even the most reliable news resources. Some that are particularly interesting to me are the constant accounts of the Virgin Mary and her many manifestations. She will appear as the burnt part of your toast, in the wrinkles of your sticky bun, in the scratches on the bottom of your Teflon pan, or in the reflections on the panels of the office building you work in. This recognition should sound familiar, as we learned in chapter one that humans often experience pareiodolia, which is defined in the Lilienfeld text as "The phenomenon of seeing meaningful images in meaningless visual stimuli."
People from Clearwater, Florida likely know of the event characterized on youtube as "A Miracle in Clearwater." This refers to a face on the side of an office building that had what some thought to be an uncanny likeness to the Virgin Mary. In one video created for the likeness to Mary (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWul9UC_w_c) the author of the video asserts that the "apparition" was sighted on December 17th, and this date being so close to Christmas led many viewers to believe that the reflection had something to do with the birth of Christ. This tendency to make a connection is called apophenia "perceiving meaningful connections among unrelated and even random phenomena" (Carroll, 2003) It could be argued that only religious persons would see any significance in the event, but as the Lilienfeld text states "Our brains are predisposed to make order out of disorder and find sense in nonsense." Because it is human to want to dismiss entropy, we make sense of things that should not make sense sometimes, and this leads many people to make what is classified in our book as an extraordinary claim. What the people who truly believed that this was an apparition likely did not consider was why the Virgin Mary was showing up on "A Finance company office building," or how she came to be there. In a video from ted.com, Michael Shermer reveals that a sprinkler hitting a palm tree and then the building caused the image. He jokes that the same image showed up on the backside of the building, but that "they started to wipe off, I guess you can only have one miracle per building." (http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_shermer_on_believing_strange_things.html)
By placing the tendency we have to create meaningless connections in the pseudoscience section of the text, the author has given the condition negative connotations. I don't believe that creating such connections is always a bad thing, it can spark creativity, and it keeps people happy, and gives them a sense of security and control.