The Thissiders: Voices in the White Noise

On the Othersiders you’re going to hear a lot of popular teen slang scientific terms like “woah” or “dude” or “creepy”, but I guarantee you that you will never hear a term I am about to introduce you to: audio pareidolia. Probably because a) big words are not sexy and b) it debunks half the evidence they’ve labelled “credible”.

Take a look at the Case Files on the Othersiders page, especially the sound clips. Right away you can pretty much just say it’s poor sound quality, but you might still think “that’s creepy” you seem to be hearing exactly what they say you should be hearing.

Well, if you are hearing it, good for you. The clip from the Queen Mary where a man appears to be saying “Get Out” sounds more like “kiddo” to me. But what you’re actually experiencing is the audio form of the phenomenon called “pareidolia” where your brain believes it is finding patterns in randomness. In its visual form, a good example of pareidolia is where you see a face in this crater on Mars:

All that really happened is Mars was randomly pelted by a bunch of flying space rocks, but your brain still searches for pattern in the randomness and sees a smiley face. The same concept applies to random sound, and it’s particularly helpful when you’re being told what you’re supposed to expect to hear because then your brain will be pre-conditioned for hearing it.

For an easy understanding of this concept applied to sound check out this page and read the alleged lyrics to the song while listening to it. You’ll be convinced that Karl Orff wrote “Oh four Tuna” into that song.

For a slightly more technical, but equally entertaining understanding, check out Michael Shermer’s TED talk on why people believe strange things.

When you’re done, I bet you’ll hear the guy on the Queen Mary saying “Karl Orff”.

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elles the vampire slayer

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