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Category: Stuff for Your Brain

Elephants In The Sky & The Man On The Moon

Flat on the grass, face to the sky, you’ve probably gazed up and picked out shapes in the clouds: dogs, trees, ice cream cones and almost anything else. Or you’ve looked up at the moon and seen a face.

The ability to do this isn’t a sign that you’re seeing things; it tells you that your brain is performing a job that is not only normal, it may have helped keep early human beings alive.

The ability for the brain to see familiar shapes in random things is called pareidolia. No, the clouds aren’t really shaped like lions or two birds kissing. That’s simply your brain trying to make sense of shapes that have no sense.

People who study pareidolia have different ideas on why this is an important skill for our brains to perform.

One theory goes back to when humans lived in the wild. With all the dangers that can lurk in forests and jungles, the ability to spot danger—or safety—can be the difference between life and death. A human who can more quickly spot a predator can get a heads start on running away.

Another theory is found in the eyes of babies. With all the new shapes in the world, babies are instinctively drawn to faces. They will stare at a face for longer and more intently than any other thing in their new lives.

Some researchers say that babies can recognize familiar faces just weeks after being born.

Pareidolia is part of this learning process, because the brain, experts think, looks for faces. It looks for faces in stains on a wall, in clouds, in leaves –in almost anything.

In many famous instances, people have seen the faces of familiar people in food, like the almost infamous example of the image of Mother Theresa found on a cinnamon roll. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have both been spotted in chicken nuggets. Kate Middleton’s face was seen on a jelly bean. These are all examples of pareidolia, seeing something –or someone—familiar in a totally unrelated object.

Counsellors sometimes use pareidolia to get insight into the minds of clients. This is done using a Rorschach Test.

This test uses totally random ink blotches. Psychologist believe that when clients look at the blotches, the thoughts on their mind will be revealed in what the client says they see in the blotches. If that theory is correct, then perhaps clouds are nature’s Rorschach test.

Next time you are staring at wall paper or embers in a fire or clouds in the sky and suddenly see a face, remember: There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing one of the many extraordinary tasks it is wired to do: use pareidolia to help make sense of the world.

Flat on the grass, face to the sky, you’ve probably gazed up and picked out shapes in the clouds: dogs, trees, ice cream cones and almost anything else. Or you’ve looked up at the moon and seen a face.

The ability to do this isn’t a sign that you’re seeing things; it tells you that your brain is performing a job that is not only normal, it may have helped keep early human beings alive.

The ability for the brain to see familiar shapes in random things is called pareidolia. No, the clouds aren’t really shaped like lions or two birds kissing. That’s simply your brain trying to make sense of shapes that have no sense.

People who study pareidolia have different ideas on why this is an important skill for our brains to perform.

One theory goes back to when humans lived in the wild. With all the dangers that can lurk in forests and jungles, the ability to spot danger—or safety—can be the difference between life and death. A human who can more quickly spot a predator can get a heads start on running away.

Another theory is found in the eyes of babies. With all the new shapes in the world, babies are instinctively drawn to faces. They will stare at a face for longer and more intently than any other thing in their new lives.

Some researchers say that babies can recognize familiar faces just weeks after being born.

Pareidolia is part of this learning process, because the brain, experts think, looks for faces. It looks for faces in stains on a wall, in clouds, in leaves –in almost anything.

In many famous instances, people have seen the faces of familiar people in food, like the almost infamous example of the image of Mother Theresa found on a cinnamon roll. Abraham Lincoln and George Washington have both been spotted in chicken nuggets. Kate Middleton’s face was seen on a jelly bean. These are all examples of pareidolia, seeing something –or someone—familiar in a totally unrelated object.

Counsellors sometimes use pareidolia to get insight into the minds of clients. This is done using a Rorschach Test.

This test uses totally random ink blotches. Psychologist believe that when clients look at the blotches, the thoughts on their mind will be revealed in what the client says they see in the blotches. If that theory is correct, then perhaps clouds are nature’s Rorschach test.

Next time you are staring at wall paper or embers in a fire or clouds in the sky and suddenly see a face, remember: There is nothing wrong with you. Your brain is doing one of the many extraordinary tasks it is wired to do: use pareidolia to help make sense of the world.

The Dark and Scary Side – of SNEEZING

Kids History

Sneezing. We all do it. It seems so simple. You get an itch in your nose, a tickle in your head and then: HAH-CHEW! You don’t decide to sneeze. It just happens. A sneeze can be funny, but it can also be dangerous. In fact, sneezing has a dark and frightening history.

People have sneezed since the beginning of time. And all over the world people have responded to a sneeze by wishing the sneezer good health.

In ancient Rome people would say “Jupiter preserve you.” Ancient Greeks would say “good health to you.” Even though these people didn’t know about germs, they knew that sneezing was a bad sign.

Some thought that the soul left the body when a person sneezed. Wishing good health helped keep the devil away from that soul. Other people thought that sneezing was how a person got rid of a demon. A blessing was to help keep the devil from re-entering the person’s body.

The phrase, “God bless you” is believed to come from Pope Gregory The Great during the sixth century. This was when a deadly bubonic plague ran wild through Europe. The blessing was uttered after a sneeze in the hope of preventing the spread of the illness. Of course, it didn’t.

Probably the most familiar response to sneezing is: gesundheit. This is a German word that means “health.” In Punjabi, people say “Glorious Lord.” Latvians say, “To your health.” Albanians simply say, “Health.” While some cultures have different ways to answer the blessing, the usual thing to say back is: “Thank you.”

Sneezing is also thought to have inspired a famous old children’s rhythm: Ring around the Rosie. In the 1800s, people thought that the poem was a playful description of the plague. The words, “A-shew-A-shew we all fall down” was thought to describe sneezing then getting sick and falling.

History experts don’t think that the nursery rhythm was written because of the plague, but people still believe the story.

Of course, now we know that sneezing is one way our bodies get rid of germs. Years ago, people were told to sneeze into handkerchiefs. This wasn’t a good idea, because the germs still lived in the cloth.

Now people are told to use tissues then throw the tissues away and wash their hands. If you sneeze and do not have a tissue, doctors say that you should to sneeze into the elbow of your sleeve.

We know that sneezing isn’t caused by demons, but we do know that germs are dangerous. You can still say “God bless you,” but to be safe, use a tissue and wash your

Sneezing. We all do it. It seems so simple. You get an itch in your nose, a tickle in your head and then: HAH-CHEW! You don’t decide to sneeze. It just happens. A sneeze can be funny, but it can also be dangerous. In fact, sneezing has a dark and frightening history.

People have sneezed since the beginning of time. And all over the world people have responded to a sneeze by wishing the sneezer good health.

In ancient Rome people would say “Jupiter preserve you.” Ancient Greeks would say “good health to you.” Even though these people didn’t know about germs, they knew that sneezing was a bad sign.

Some thought that the soul left the body when a person sneezed. Wishing good health helped keep the devil away from that soul. Other people thought that sneezing was how a person got rid of a demon. A blessing was to help keep the devil from re-entering the person’s body.

The phrase, “God bless you” is believed to come from Pope Gregory The Great during the sixth century. This was when a deadly bubonic plague ran wild through Europe. The blessing was uttered after a sneeze in the hope of preventing the spread of the illness. Of course, it didn’t.

Probably the most familiar response to sneezing is: gesundheit. This is a German word that means “health.” In Punjabi, people say “Glorious Lord.” Latvians say, “To your health.” Albanians simply say, “Health.” While some cultures have different ways to answer the blessing, the usual thing to say back is: “Thank you.”

Sneezing is also thought to have inspired a famous old children’s rhythm: Ring around the Rosie. In the 1800s, people thought that the poem was a playful description of the plague. The words, “A-shew-A-shew we all fall down” was thought to describe sneezing then getting sick and falling.

History experts don’t think that the nursery rhythm was written because of the plague, but people still believe the story.

Of course, now we know that sneezing is one way our bodies get rid of germs. Years ago, people were told to sneeze into handkerchiefs. This wasn’t a good idea, because the germs still lived in the cloth.

Now people are told to use tissues then throw the tissues away and wash their hands. If you sneeze and do not have a tissue, doctors say that you should to sneeze into the elbow of your sleeve.

We know that sneezing isn’t caused by demons, but we do know that germs are dangerous. You can still say “God bless you,” but to be safe, use a tissue and wash your

Let’s Talk Fashion!

Fashion for Kids

What’s hot in fashion this season? What outfits are all the cool kids wearing? Can you show the world who you are by what shirt you put on? Let’s talk about it. First, there’s something very important that you need to know.

When you grow up you will look at what you are wearing now and roll your eyes or burst out laughing. Sure, you can wear loose pants that threaten to fall off, but when you get older, you’ll wonder why you did.

But don’t dress to please an older, wiser version of you. Dress for now. Wear what fits the day you are living. But always think about these points:

  • Your clothes should let you live your life. You run, jump, sit, catch balls, eat, walk. Your clothes should let you do those activities. When you try on pants, walk around in them. Sit down in them. Do you still feel comfortable? If you don’t, try on a different pair. Does your new shirt let you reach over your head? If so, you’ve picked the right shirt. Fashion doesn’t matter when it won’t let you be you.
  • Your clothes need to fit the weather. Face it, you would look pretty silly wearing a windbreaker in a snow storm. You could also get sick. If you wear a big puffy coat on a hot day, you’ll be sticky and sweaty and might even get weak from the heat. When you dress to fit Mother Nature, you can enjoy the world. Check weather reports or listen to what your parents say about weather conditions.
  • Really think about the heroes and statements you wear on your t-shirts. When you wear a famous face, you tell the world that you admire this person. Beware. Many people whose faces are printed on shirts are not all that admirable. A good example is Lance Armstrong. For many, many years Lance was a hero to people. He won international bicycle races and an Olympic medal. He also fought cancer and won, which is admirable. In time, the truth came out. Lance had cheated to win his races and medals. He is no longer considered a hero or role model. So what should you do? Read up on people before wearing them on your body. Talk to your parents. Look for real heroes.
  • Always wear shoes you can run in. Color doesn’t matter. Style is up to you. They don’t even have to be officially running shoes. The important fact is this: If you can run in your shoes, you will have more fun and be safer. If you can run in your shoes, you can dance, play ball, quickly help a friend, carry grocery bags and move! Good shoes give you freedom.
  • Dress for the occasion. You wouldn’t shovel snow in a bathing suit. You wouldn’t wear a snow suit to play basketball. When you visit your grandparents or open your first bank account or visit a friend in the hospital, some fashion will make others feel uncomfortable. When you dress for the event, people won’t be staring at the funny fashion you have on. They’ll be looking at you.

What is fashion? Is it what your favorite rapper wears or what you see on the cover of magazines? Yes, but fashion is also what you put on every morning. Don’t let fashion rule you. Rock fashion yourself.

What’s hot in fashion this season? What outfits are all the cool kids wearing? Can you show the world who you are by what shirt you put on? Let’s talk about it. First, there’s something very important that you need to know.

When you grow up you will look at what you are wearing now and roll your eyes or burst out laughing. Sure, you can wear loose pants that threaten to fall off, but when you get older, you’ll wonder why you did.

But don’t dress to please an older, wiser version of you. Dress for now. Wear what fits the day you are living. But always think about these points:

  • Your clothes should let you live your life. You run, jump, sit, catch balls, eat, walk. Your clothes should let you do those activities. When you try on pants, walk around in them. Sit down in them. Do you still feel comfortable? If you don’t, try on a different pair. Does your new shirt let you reach over your head? If so, you’ve picked the right shirt. Fashion doesn’t matter when it won’t let you be you.
  • Your clothes need to fit the weather. Face it, you would look pretty silly wearing a windbreaker in a snow storm. You could also get sick. If you wear a big puffy coat on a hot day, you’ll be sticky and sweaty and might even get weak from the heat. When you dress to fit Mother Nature, you can enjoy the world. Check weather reports or listen to what your parents say about weather conditions.
  • Really think about the heroes and statements you wear on your t-shirts. When you wear a famous face, you tell the world that you admire this person. Beware. Many people whose faces are printed on shirts are not all that admirable. A good example is Lance Armstrong. For many, many years Lance was a hero to people. He won international bicycle races and an Olympic medal. He also fought cancer and won, which is admirable. In time, the truth came out. Lance had cheated to win his races and medals. He is no longer considered a hero or role model. So what should you do? Read up on people before wearing them on your body. Talk to your parents. Look for real heroes.
  • Always wear shoes you can run in. Color doesn’t matter. Style is up to you. They don’t even have to be officially running shoes. The important fact is this: If you can run in your shoes, you will have more fun and be safer. If you can run in your shoes, you can dance, play ball, quickly help a friend, carry grocery bags and move! Good shoes give you freedom.
  • Dress for the occasion. You wouldn’t shovel snow in a bathing suit. You wouldn’t wear a snow suit to play basketball. When you visit your grandparents or open your first bank account or visit a friend in the hospital, some fashion will make others feel uncomfortable. When you dress for the event, people won’t be staring at the funny fashion you have on. They’ll be looking at you.

What is fashion? Is it what your favorite rapper wears or what you see on the cover of magazines? Yes, but fashion is also what you put on every morning. Don’t let fashion rule you. Rock fashion yourself.

The Best Place in the World to Live

Kids Living Around the World

People are always grumbling about the weather. Many think that life would be so much better to live if only they moved to a better place. The fact is, every place is both the best place to live and the worst place to be, depending on the time of year. Let’s take a little trip. Grab your globe or a map of the world and buckle up.

Many people in northern climates dream of living on the equator. After all, they say, life would be so much better without cold and snow. Rainy season in Mexico can last from May to November. That’s seven months where outdoor activity is sloppy and wet. When the rain stops, the world blooms in green and flowers that would shame a rainbow. The lush growth makes places like this a wonderful place to live—after rain season, that is.

All up and down the southern Atlantic coast (check your map) is where you find hurricanes. They are the wicked monsters of weather, blowing cars and homes and even chunks of bridges up in the air. Millions of people have to live with damage caused by hurricanes each year. Most of the damage is in places known for hot, pleasant weather, like Florida, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Central America and the east coast of Africa.

Maybe you’ve longed to live in someplace known for easy, comfortable climate, like, say, California or Switzerland. Okay. But be warned that these are places known for mudslides. Mudslides occur when large amounts of water flow down steep slopes. The mud can be so thick, it can wash away whole towns.

Mudslides and landslides happen all over the world, from Nepal to Peru to Southeast Asia and back to Venezuela. There are gorgeous mountains and lush vegetation—but a good rain can send a mountain sliding down.

Some of the most sunniest places in North America are in winter climates. The temperature is cold and well below freezing, but seeing the bright sun every day can be uplifting. People who live along the Pacific coast enjoy warmer winters, but during the winter the it’s mostly cloudy. In certain areas it can rain continuously for 3 or 4 months straight. In those cases, the sky can be very dark on a daily basis.

Many hot countries are too hot to go out and play during the middle of the day. Lovely island countries like Japan can face tsunamis, which are huge, powerful waves. The wide prairies have to deal with tornadoes. No matter where you live in the world, the weather can be wonderful or it can unpleasant.

The planet is a dynamic place with changing seasons and weather conditions. Luckily, human beings are smart. We are adaptable. We can live happily almost anywhere. The trick is to understand that no place is perfect and every place has its magic and beauty.

When bad weather comes, you have the power to get through it. You don’t have to move to enjoy the world. Just listen to your parents and put on that scarf!

People are always grumbling about the weather. Many think that life would be so much better to live if only they moved to a better place. The fact is, every place is both the best place to live and the worst place to be, depending on the time of year. Let’s take a little trip. Grab your globe or a map of the world and buckle up.

Many people in northern climates dream of living on the equator. After all, they say, life would be so much better without cold and snow. Rainy season in Mexico can last from May to November. That’s seven months where outdoor activity is sloppy and wet. When the rain stops, the world blooms in green and flowers that would shame a rainbow. The lush growth makes places like this a wonderful place to live—after rain season, that is.

All up and down the southern Atlantic coast (check your map) is where you find hurricanes. They are the wicked monsters of weather, blowing cars and homes and even chunks of bridges up in the air. Millions of people have to live with damage caused by hurricanes each year. Most of the damage is in places known for hot, pleasant weather, like Florida, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Central America and the east coast of Africa.

Maybe you’ve longed to live in someplace known for easy, comfortable climate, like, say, California or Switzerland. Okay. But be warned that these are places known for mudslides. Mudslides occur when large amounts of water flow down steep slopes. The mud can be so thick, it can wash away whole towns.

Mudslides and landslides happen all over the world, from Nepal to Peru to Southeast Asia and back to Venezuela. There are gorgeous mountains and lush vegetation—but a good rain can send a mountain sliding down.

Some of the most sunniest places in North America are in winter climates. The temperature is cold and well below freezing, but seeing the bright sun every day can be uplifting. People who live along the Pacific coast enjoy warmer winters, but during the winter the it’s mostly cloudy. In certain areas it can rain continuously for 3 or 4 months straight. In those cases, the sky can be very dark on a daily basis.

Many hot countries are too hot to go out and play during the middle of the day. Lovely island countries like Japan can face tsunamis, which are huge, powerful waves. The wide prairies have to deal with tornadoes. No matter where you live in the world, the weather can be wonderful or it can unpleasant.

The planet is a dynamic place with changing seasons and weather conditions. Luckily, human beings are smart. We are adaptable. We can live happily almost anywhere. The trick is to understand that no place is perfect and every place has its magic and beauty.

When bad weather comes, you have the power to get through it. You don’t have to move to enjoy the world. Just listen to your parents and put on that scarf!