iPhones in old paintings — Is this evidence of Time Travellers?

Today’s posting is a bit of fun. While some do take the following observations at face value as credible evidence that time travellers have turned up in the past, most people don’t. There is however a more serious point at the end. The real answer reveals something rather fundamental about the human experience and life.

The essence of this posting is this. People have been spotting iPhones in places where they simply should not be, and yet there they are.

What is going on, how is this actually possible?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Example 1 — iPhone in 1860 painting

Picture: Hajotthu / Wikimedia Commons(Hajotthu / Wikimedia Commons)
The above is a painting by Feddinand Georg Waldmüller called “The Expected One”. The gallery dates it to 1850 or 1860. It appears to depict a young girl mesmerised by her iPhone.

Is that really an iPhone?

Let’s zoon in for a closer look, and yes, there is even a glow from the screen …

It definitely is an iPhone… right?

When first spotted, some were convinced that it was …

Just like her on the dating app in Walmüller’s Die Erwartete (c. 1850): pic.twitter.com/Lakl0vCkri

— Peter A. Russell2291 (@Planet_Pedro) October 23, 2017

… except of course it’s not.

Within this painting entitled “The Expected One”, what you actually have is a girl going off to church piously holding a prayer book, and not an iPhone.

Most people looking at the picture prior to the emergence of smartphones would have immediately identified it correctly.

Example 2 — iPhone in 1937 mural

Within the above you can see a guy who is definitely amazed by the iPhone in his hand …. right?

This is one part of the multi-section New Deal-era mural that is titled “Mr. Pynchon and the Settling of Springfield,”. It was completed in 1937 by Italian semi-abstract painter Umberto Romano. He was inspired by actual events — a pre-Revolutionary War encounter between members of two prominent New England tribes, the Pocumtuc and Nipmuc, and English settlers at the village of Agawam in present-day Massachusetts in the 1630s.

Was Umberto a closet time traveller who left a clue for us?

Let’s zoom in for a closer look …

Oh yes, that just must be an iPhone, you can even see the bezel.

… except of course once again it is not.

So if that is not an iPhone, then what else could it be?

It’s a mirror.

Example 3 — iPhone in a 1670 painting

Details of painting image in Wikimedia Commons — here
The above 1670 painting by Pieter de Hooch clearly shows an iPhone. Is this really it then, solid proof of time travel?

Let’s zoom in once again and also tweak things to handle the visibility.

Yes, that just has to be an iPhone … right?

By now you can see where this is going to go. Stop reading for a second and consider what it might be before you read the reveal in the next paragraph.

The title for that painting gives you an ever so subtle clue regarding what is actually happening here. If you check out the gallery website, then you will discover that the title is “Man Handing a Letter to a Woman in the Entrance Hall of a House”.

The real discovery — pareidolia
We are in many ways products of the age we live in. Our brains are amazing pattern seeking engines that are cued to see the things we expect to see around us. When we look at these images we see iPhones and not what they were originally composed to represent. This is because we have all become conditioned by our experiences in the world around us to intrepret these as iPhones.

While it is not evidence for time travel, it is clear evidence that we should always doubt our own subjective interpretation of the things we see and experience.

When faced with an amazing claim (ghosts, gods, ESP, aliens, bigfoot, etc…) you would be wise to step back and appreciate that what you are being presented with is a wholly subjective sincerely held interpretation and not an objective truth. We all interpret things in the context of our cultural expectations. There are no exceptions, it is the way we are and is part of the human experience, we all do this.

When faced with extraordinary claims, “doubt” is your friend and not an enemy.