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Apophenia is the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. The term was coined in 1958 by Klaus Conrad, who defined it as the "unmotivated seeing of connections" accompanied by a "specific experience of an abnormal meaningfulness".
Conrad originally described this phenomenon in relation to the distortion of reality present in psychosis, but it has become more widely used to describe this tendency in healthy individuals without necessarily implying the presence of neurological or mental illness.
In statistics, apophenia would be classed as a Type I error (false positive, false alarm, caused by an excess in sensitivity). Apophenia is often used as an explanation of some paranormal and religious claims. It has been suggested that apophenia is a link between psychosis and creativity.
- Clustering illusion
- Hindsight bias
- Conspiracy theory
- Confirmation bias
Notes and referencesEdit
- Klaus Conrad, 1958, Die beginnende Schizophrenie. Versuch einer Gestaltanalyse des Wahns. Stuttgart: Thieme.
- William Gibson, 2003, Pattern Recognition. New York: G. P. Putnam's, 2003.
- Skeptic's Dictionary: Robert Todd Carroll's article on apophenia
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