Pareidolia: (n.) the instinct to seek familiar forms in disordered images like clouds or constellations; the perception of random stimulus as significant.
Pareidolia is a type of apophenia, to see patterns in random data.
Pareidolia is the tendency for perception to impose a meaningful interpretation on a nebulous stimulus, usually visual, so that one sees an object, pattern, or meaning where there is none, like the Rorschach inkblot test.
Studies have shown that facial features aren’t the only thing that we see when we come across an illusory face. It was found that we also see age, emotion, and gender – and strangely enough the vast majority of these funny faces are perceived as male faces, like the man in the moon.
I’m sure my neuroscientist DIL would have a much more scientific and intelligent explanation than I do, but I find it fascinating to discover faces or animals in clouds or common objects.
Check out these examples: