Monday, April 25, 2016

Mimetoliths; Stones That "Look Like" Something

Pareidolia: the mind perceives a familiar pattern of something where none actually exists.
Mimetoliths: stones that “mimic” objects [Greek mimetes (an imitator) and lithos (stone).
Pareidoliatic apophenia, or just plain old apophenia: the human tendency to perceive meaningful patterns within random data.
   In 1958, Klaus Conrad coined the word "Apophänie" to characterize the onset of delusional thinking in psychosis. In contrast to an epiphany, an apophany (i.e., an instance of apophenia) does not provide insight into the nature of reality or its interconnectedness but is a "process of repetitively and monotonously experiencing abnormal meanings in the entire surrounding experiential field". Such meanings are entirely self-referential, solipsistic, and paranoid — "being observed, spoken about, the object of eavesdropping, followed by strangers". Thus the English term "apophenia" has a somewhat different meaning than that which Conrad defined when he coined the term "Apophänie".
Please note: "Apophany" should not be confused with "apophony" - the alternation of sounds within a word that indicates grammatical information (often inflectional). Example: sing, sang, sung, song.

  Pareidolia is a type of apophenia involving the perception of images (or sounds) in random stimuli.

    Above: “Image of three circles and a line, which the human brain automatically and subconsciously recognizes as a face - despite the complete lack of resemblance to a real human face. This is an example of how the brain can be considered "too good" at recognizing faces.
   Though some, especially if hungry, may see it as two eggs and a strip of bacon,” or so Wikipedia believes.
Example: Figure 8 below, from “Rocks and Fossils Collected from Mississippi Gravels” at first seemed to me to be a possible human face but I figured that the David Dockery must have been hungry because he says it’s a “fried egg:”
    But then I realized I was looking at the wrong plate and should have been looking #8 in this one (called momentary reader’s error, I believe):
Dockery does admit he took a pencil to #9:
     Dockery also tells us that “many times a collector will find an interesting rock that looks like an Indian artifact.” He actually means a “stone” and is hardly being scientific by saying “looks like” when he means “could be said to resemble,” which is pretty much the same thing but the friends who used to talk to me about such things seem to hate the phrase “looks like,” it looks like (Oh no I did it again: I mean “it seems”). Dockery says archaeologists have a special term for these sort of interesting stones and is not afraid to say “Archaeologists call these stones IR, an abbreviation for interesting rocks.” He says nothing about why a scientist would call a stone a rock, which I find interesting.
     And I found that Dockery was more interested in fossils (except for a stone he said “looks like a petrified egg roll”) than faces so I made some toast because now I was hungry too and went on to look up this R. V. Deitrich who Dockery claimed coined the negolism Mimeolith to see if I could find more examples to go in my “stones that look like something” folder, which should really be my “stones that could be said to resemble something” folder.
      And so I hitched on over to:
      Deitrich begins by saying, “Nearly everyone has, I suspect, looked at one thing and imagined it looked like something else.  Indeed, many observations of this kind have been recorded.  -- Four examples are: the Chinese poet Lo-tien (773-846) mentions viewing stones (see;  Shakespeare (1564-1616) has Hamlet exclaiming about cloud shapes that resemble "a camel," "a weasel," and "a whale" (Hamlet -- Act iii, scene 2);  Mark Twain (1835-1910) has Adam, in The Diaries of Adam and Eve, lamenting (e.g. when Adam asks Eve why she named a certain thing such as a lion a lion  " . . . always that same pretext is offered -- it looks like the thing (i.e. a lion).";  Robert Williams Wood (1868-1955) in his little book How to tell the birds from the flowers . . . (1917) provides several delightful sketches and poetic remarks that pertain to such observations;  and, there are , of course, the implications, especially in some peoples' minds, that relate mimetoliths and pareidoliatic apophenia.”
   R.V.’s focus is on naturally occurring stones and his gigantic illustrated list includes just two possibly humanly enhanced stones (that he sounds a little doubtful about), but he does include this interesting photo (IP) below:
#43.  Makapansgat jasperite cobble (height ~ 8 cm). This cobble is described as a manuport because its diverse markings have been shown by "detailed microscopic analysis" to be natural -- i.e., neither made by nor modified artificially. It was found in South Africa at a site to which it was carried "either by Australophithecus africanus, or by an as yet unknown hominid" "between two and three million years" ago. Additional information and references about this cobble are on the web site: . (© photo by R.G. Bednarik).

Note: That link didn’t work for me but this one did:
    Well that’s food (a fried egg, possibly an egg roll) for thought, isn’t it? A pre-human manuport, a stone or Interesting Rock carried to a cave because it “looked like” a (pre)human face (or two eggs and a strip of yet to be invented bacon).
    As I approached the end of the web page, I found that I liked this R.V. Dietrich who says, “Is it any wonder that we, usually "down to earth" geologists, when we look at certain topography, rock exposures, rock and mineral specimens, and beach stones sometimes think,  "That looks like a ... "?  -- Certainly not!!!   Imagination is not only one of the capacities that separates humans from other living beings:  It is common; it is fun;  and sometimes,  as Burke’s (1940) lyrics go, "Imagination is funny; it makes a cloudy day sunny . . ." {}
     Consequently, it came as a surprise -- indeed, a shock -- to me when one of our would-be professional spokesmen dismissed practices involving imagination exercises of the kind just mentioned in rather negative terms:  ". . . faced with the history, the psychology, and the obtuse logic of describing minerals in non-mineral terms, one can only conclude that it will continue despite any complaints. The best defense may simply be to see the humor in it all" (Wilson, 1978). -- Fortunately, I think, Wilson's attitude is not held by many Geoscientists (especially educators).”

Pareidolia: the mind perceives a familiar pattern of something where none actually exists.
Mimetoliths: stones that “mimic” objects [Greek mimetes (an imitator) and lithos (stone).
    A neologism is the name for a relatively new or isolated term, word, or phrase that may be in the process of entering common use, but that has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language. Neologisms are often directly attributable to a specific person, publication, period, or event.
    A behavioral scientist will tell you inanimate objects like stones do not have the ability to exhibit any sort of behavior such as to mimic something, but mimetolith is easier to say that Pareidolialith...
  Lots of this is just "cut and paste" from:
   There is currently a controversial debate concerning whether unusual experiences are symptoms of a mental disorder, if mental disorders are a consequence of such experiences, or if people with mental disorders are especially susceptible to or even looking for these experiences. --Dr. Martina Belz-Merk

“....nothing is so alien to the human mind as the idea of randomness.” --John Cohen

    "Apophenia is the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena...

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