While 'digg'ing around the internet this week I found this article about a recent picture sent back from the Mars rover Spirit.
The author was in an inordinate rush to dismiss the image as a case of pareidolia, which is defined as perceiving vague or random stimulus as being significant. Amusingly enough, pareidolia is a type of apophenia, which is what this article may wind up being categorized as. As an example, of the phenomenon, he sited the back of the New Hampshire quarter.
I've lived in the Southwest for much of my life, and I've seen my fair share of rocks that look like something else.
However, the above picture of the Mars 'sculpture' goes beyond this. All the other rocks look worn by the wind like sandstone does here. However, the rock of interest has not only NOT been worn in the same manner as the others, but is in a recognizable shape. Why?
The author goes on to cite another 'expert' who says the 'statue' is only a few inches tall. This actually seems to strengthen the argument for a sculpted figure. When was the last time you found a small rock that looked like a sculpted woman?
Of course, I suppose it could have been wind erosion. By the way, who's going to tell the Jordanians that Petra was a pareidolia caused by wind erosion and an overactive imagination?
In other news, the residents of Stephenville, TX saw a UFO. Then, they didn't. But, maybe they did! A few references to this story can be found at:
UFO near Bush Ranch
Stephenville UFO receives deeper news coverage
USAF admits, their planes were out that night
The short version of the story is that several residents of Stephenville claimed to have seen a UFO. Some of the witnesses reported that fighter jets were following it. The military first denied that there were any flights in the area that night, and then later admitted that yes, there were. Of course, they still had nothing to do with any purported UFO sightings.
The second article above contains the quote
"...Americans and people around the world are getting used to reports of this kind..."While this quote describes the reaction of the American public to UFO sightings, it may as well describe the reaction of the American public to UFO sighting denials. There have been frequent reports of UFO sightings for decades with just as frequent reports that summarily deny UFO sightings are real. It's surprising that so many Americans can report something without society as a whole beginning to question the denials.
The canals on Mars are another example of "It's real!"..."No, it's absolutely not!"..."Well, maybe...". The canals were reported by several observers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They were explained away as optical illusions. However, when Mars was explored more thoroughly recently, the lava tubes were discovered. I won't speculate as far as the referenced 'lava tube' author does, but the fact remains that canals were observed, then explained away, and then features that resembled canals were in fact discovered!
The Face on Mars
I've saved the best for last. In 1976, NASA released an image that appeared to depict a face on Mars. All the images used here are from the following article:
Space.com on the face
Once again, the author is quick to debunk the 'face' theory. However, new images are shown, one of which shows a geologic 'feature' that looks just like a human skull.
The article is also a bit odd in that it uses directions like west to describe pictures when no reference north is provided. However, it's from the same publication that was so hasty to debunk the woman-like stone sculpture described above. That article claims that another feature resembling a lizard can be seen in the lower right corner of the same picture. As far as I can tell, it's actually in the upper right corner of the picture. I guess as long as you're a skeptic, there's no need to be accurate.
What's to be Done?
So, after over a century of speculation, observation, and denial, we appear to still have no conclusive evidence. I believe the only way we'll ever get real answers to these questions is to take them out of the government's hands. The move to privatize space exploration, (as called for by Ron Paul), and popularized by the X Prize is the first step. The simplest way to find an answer is to get real observers to the areas in question!
Digg the Sources:
Female Figure on Mars Just a Rock read more | digg story
Bear in the Rock read more | digg story
Strip Searched in Israel! read more | digg story
UFO in Stephenville Texas Breached Restricted Air Space|Bush read more | digg story
Deeper views of Texas UFO sightings explored read more | digg story
'We Really Did See A UFO' Claims Town read more | digg story
Mars Canal/Tube Analysis read more | digg story
Skull and Bones already has an outpost on Mars? read more | digg story
Ron Paul on Space Exploration and the X Prize read more | digg story