The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Weather forecast calls for heavy rainfall, 50% chance of Batman

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Because it's the weather system Texas deserves, etc.

Over at Newton Blog, Ross Pomeroy serves up a great example of misperceived random stimuli in the form of a 3-day rainfall forecast. The screenshot, he says, was captured by a friend working at Weather Nation, and comes from the Rapid Precision Mesoscale weather forecasting model. Tempting though it may be to take the model as a sign of Batman's return, Pomeroy rightly chalks its resemblance up to pareidolia:

Abetted by thousands of years of evolution, your brain is constantly on the lookout for something meaningful. Why? Because noticing such details offers an advantage. Take this example: Imagine your great-great-great-great-great, etc. grandfather walking through a dark forest. Suddenly, he thinks he sees a vague, yet ominous shadow out of the corner of his eye. If he assumes the shadow is a vicious beast and decides to run away, he minimizes his chances of becoming lunch. But if he assumes the shadow is innocuous and continues walking normally, and the shadow turns out to be a saber-toothed cat, he gets eaten. Seeing, recognizing, and reacting to simple patterns — however irrelevant they may be — was often a win-win for our ancestors. Thus, our brains evolved to be on the lookout for even the slightest hint of peril.


More on Newton Blog.