Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns in random data or stimuli. This is the result of how the human brain works - it is so good at detecting patterns that it sees them where none exist. This is one of the major reasons behind the rise of many conspiracy theories, among other phenomena.
Game and Story Use
- It is very important to remember that the players are also subject to this. They will see patterns where none exist - even apart from dice superstitions they will jump to conclusions about the mysteries of the adventure that you, the game master, never even considered. Your job at these occasions is to smile and make a note to use their ideas later.
- Even more so than other genres, Cosmic Horror (such as the Cthulhu Mythos) lives by this effect. The PCs should constantly have the feeling that everything is connected together into one malevolent whole, even if they cannot grasp how. Your job is it to provide plenty of hints towards such connections to maintain a constant, high level of paranoia.