Have you ever been mistaken for someone else? I have. Many, many times. Usually it's Simon Pegg or Dave Gorman - I've even been asked to sign autographs. Last night at my Skeptics In The Pub talk I was billed as "...Dave Gorman look-alike, Paolo Viscardi...", which prompted a question from Matt Brown (of Londonist fame) about whether I was more Pegg-like or Gormanesque. Since we live in a democracy there was a vote on it and the audience was fairly evenly split in their opinion. When given a third option of me looking like the impossible and unholy love-child of Dave Gorman and Simon Pegg there was a more unanimous agreement. Thanks.
This idea of an impossible melding rather puts me in mind of the first episode of Spaced, where Tim and Daisy are getting to know each other and Tim finds out about Daisy's fear of mice and spiders...
Here's me, what do you think? I've not included photos of Simon Pegg or Dave Gorman, because it's the perception rather than the actual appearance that I think counts.
I certainly don't see much similarity myself, but then again I'm used to seeing my own face every day in a mirror and I notice every little difference each time I see it. Other people don't see me as often or as closely (except my lovely wife), so they probably don't have such an accurate idea of what my face is made up of. Obviously I have a nose, mouth, eyes and the usual bits, plus facial hair - but it's the shapes of these bits and their arrangement in respect to each other that makes me recognisable as an individual. Get enough bits of similar shape and arrangement in common and people start looking like each other.
The same is true of lots of things - we use a range of visual clues to identify what something is. Sometimes we get a bit carried away and we recognise things that aren't there at all - this is called pareidolia and it's a fascinating and common quirk. It may be that you see a bunny in a cloud (as in the charming film Amelie), or you may see Jesus resurrected in a dog's arse. Aren't our brains weird?