If you had $28,000 extra dollars to spend back in 2004, chances are you thought about buying this 10-year-old grilled cheese bearing the image of the Virgin Mary. Or if sandwiches aren't your thing, you might have cropped the Madonna hiding in this google earth image.
In either case the phenomenon in question is Pareidolia, the psychological process by which a vague stimulus is perceived as something clear and often meaningful. Just google "Mother Theresa Cinnamon roll" to see what I mean by meaningful.
In fact, the presence of meaning seems to be exactly why we humans see the images to begin with. Ana Gantman & Jay Van Bavel, a couple of rock stars at NYU's Social Perception and Evaluation Lab, are publishing a study in the journal Cognition which suggests that the we are more likely to perceive embedded messages with a moral content. In other words, you are more likely to find the image of The Buddha in a bowl of Thai noodles than say, Garfield The Cat.
I guess it took some fancy neuroscientists to explain why no one is bidding on my ginger root which looks uncannily like a young Chuck Norris, mid-kick. $15,000 Opening Bid: