Michael Shermer: “Why people believe strange things.” (direct link – TED)
The perceptual cognitive biases that Shermer refers to are know collectively as “pareidolia“, from the Greek para– — beside, with or alongside — and eidolon — image (the diminutive of eidos — image, form, shape). And, as the very informative wiki entry points out, these phenomena are in turn part of a greater nature human tendency: apophenia*.
Also, Shermer briefly mentions the fact that our IQ (ie, the world’s) has been consistently on the rise- apparently we’re getting smarter. The latest issue of Scientific American MIND features an article which addresses this very hopeful trend.