Lost in Face Space: My latest Discover column

I take a look at the science of facial recognition, and the puzzling ways it fails, in my column in the January-February issue:

Imagine that an eccentric psychologist accosts you. In his hand is a piece of paper with 20 pictures of roses. One of the pictures shows a rose in the flower bed you just passed, he says, and he asks you to pick its picture out from his lineup. The challenge would seem absurd—but if you were to change the roses to faces, nearly everyone could meet it.