There are words too late for Webster to know them, in his perpetual, final year of the world that was; this is one of them. In consequence, you must be satisfied with me playing the Noah for a moment. Ah-herm:
Apo*phe"ni*a (?), n. [Gr. απο + φαινο, fr. φαινειν to show; compare Phenomenon, Phantom, Phantasy.] Psych.
The illusion of pattern. The various divinatory arts of popular superstition may be considered; palmistry, cartomancy, tasseography, &c.
A subtype of apophenia is pareidolia, the illusion of images or sounds; the Face in Cydonia and seeing Jesus in the pattern of stains on a wall are examples of pareidolia.
The psychological condition of perceiving connections and patterns between unrelated things. Originally applied only to psychotics, usage is now more relaxed, although diagnosed apophenic condition implies a certain gravity of affliction.
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The word apophenia was coined by psychologist Klaus Conrad in 1958, although the phenomenon has no doubt plagued Man since we first learned to see patterns: an unavoidable side effect of the astounding and perhaps unique capacity of Man for making order of the world. Perhaps the most famous sufferer was Strindberg; during the Inferno period, the time of his Occult Diary, he constantly believed himself the recipient of various signs and omens, a famously parodied example being the time he believed that he saw the Greek letters Φ and Σ spelled out by twigs, and that this was a sign that he should make gold from iron and sulphur. In fact, he managed to make fool's gold, and, proving the name, believed at first that he had been successful.