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Is Joe Samad’s theory about ‘cross-eye sickness’ among Malaysians becoming a reality?

Publish date: Sat, 13 Apr 2024, 01:05 PM

COLUMNIST Joe Samad wrote in 2019 that a sickness may have gripped some quarters in Malaysia, citing a doctor friend who said these people suffer from strabismus or being cross-eyed or even pareidolia which is a tendency to perceive a specific image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern.

While being crossed-eyed is a condition whereby the eyes do not properly align with each other when looking at an object, pareidolia is a psychological phenomenon in which the mind responds to a stimulus - usually an image or a sound - by perceiving a familiar pattern where none exists.

Common examples are perceived images of animals, faces or objects in cloud formations.

But more specifically, Joe Samad who is a frequent guest columnist in Free Malaysia Today was referring to the infamous incident in Penang where photos of a high-rise building with lights along the common areas forming a cross went viral on social media, triggering an outcry among some Muslim groups.

That drew the then Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Mohd Noor into the fray when he called on the local authorities to instruct the developer to change the position of the lighting so that it does not resemble a cross when viewed from afar.

Fast forward five years later, netizens are drawing the line between this incident in 2019 and the sock-gate controversy involving KK Super Mart.

Political analyst James Chin wrote on his X page that Joe Samad’s “prophetic” 2019 opinion editorial “has been popular in soc-med (social media) this week” and wishes to know “if Malaysians are losing their minds”.

In response, X users are blaming the current situation on politicians who are pushing for the race-religious agenda instead of heeding the call by His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim King of Malaysia for this issue to be resolved and for politicians to unite the people instead of dividing them on racial lines.

One netizen is baffled as to how Islam being a religion of mercy has sadly become a victim to its own clergymen who treated it as a political tool to control their followers’ mind.

Another netizen contended that this happens when some people went through four decades of indoctrination, hence would not be able to change their mentality overnight. However, he does not believe that thus would lead to any violence similar to the May 13 bloodshed anytime soon.

Or as one netizen puts it, all the commotions happening today could be due to people taking their superstition to greater heights.

Whatever it is, Joe Samad was probably right that some people are suffering from “optical defects” and that educational institutions should promptly look into the matter to enlighten the new generation about the right way to perceive the world around them. - April 13, 2024

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