Tag: Pareidolia

Speaking of dumb Mars claims…

By Phil Plait | January 21, 2008 3:00 pm

Welcome Farkers! Well, everyone but aerojockey.

Wow, some antiscience claims are so weird it’s a wonder anyone can take them seriously.

Take this blog post about the image here, for example. In just a few words, it manages to get nearly everything wrong. A lot of it is in Japanese, but some is in English:

A man is in the photograph which the Mars explorer Spirit (it stopped transmitting data in 2004) sent.

First, puhlllleeeeze. A man? It’s a tiny rock only a few inches high. It’s only a few feet from the rover! Here’s the image from NASA. As usual for antiscience nonsense, they point to a press release image with no indication of when it was taken, or what the original image is. There are thousands of Spirit images, and I have little desire to comb through them looking for this one (though it appears to be early in the mission; it’s still on the landing accouterments).

Second, Spirit stopped transmitting data in 2004? Well, kinda. It did stop, but then it started again. We’re still getting good stuff from both the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars. The blog post seems to phrase it that way on purpose, to make it sound like Something Mysterious Happened.

Now, I don’t read Japanese, so this may be a misunderstanding on my part. Are they just pointing out something funny looking? Maybe. FWIW, the site appears to be about weird images and such. But I see so much of this, and there is no lower limit to the dumbosity of such claims, that it just makes sense to figure on the lowest common denominator.

Anyway, the image itself is, of course, yet another example of pareidolia, our ability to see patterns in random shapes. That does look like a guy hanging out on Mars, enjoying the 0.01 Earth atmospheric pressure, the 98% CO2 air, the subfreezing cold, and of course, just being four inches tall. Martians are pretty short, it seems. And patient, given its pose.


Tip o’ the tin foil beanie to BABloggee piotr slisz.

The Son Who Fell To Earth

By Phil Plait | December 17, 2007 8:41 pm

Hey, it’s been a while since we’ve had some nutty pareidolia, hasn’t it?

Lessee, we have Jesus in wood grain, an angel in a cloud, Mary the oilstain. It’ll be tough to get goofier than those.

But wait! Suddenly, a new contender enters the ring…

A man who sees Jesus in… wait for it… a meteorite!

Yes, rub your eyes and make that comical cartoon head shaking sound, a man thinks he sees Jesus in a chunk of rock that fell from the sky. I have to admit: it’s a good twist. And somehow appropriate.

First off, before you ask, the linked article says it has been confirmed as a meteorite. There is a picture on the site as well, and it looks real there, though that’s very hard to tell from a picture. Still, I have a Campo that looks just like that.

Second, it does seem from the article that the guy really thinks he is seeing Jesus, but the article is, um, not so well written. Or it was edited badly. Check this out:

[Meteorite owner] Cotton said he has seen the changes in his life. He is at peace, he said. He hopes the meteorite can be studied.

“I believe science needs to take a look at this and study it to see what it means,” Cotton said.

See what what means? The face, or the meteorite itself? If the latter, well, yeah. It’s a meteorite and should be studied. If the former, meh.

Then it goes on,

He had scientists from Hardin Simmons University look at the meteorite and confirm it is real.

Several people have offered to buy it for thousands of dollars, Cotton said.

Yes, but then again, almost any iron meteorite that size would go for thousands, especially with a witnessed fall. That makes them more valuable (I think simply because it’s cool). So the article makes it seem like his is worth more because it has a face, which is misleading.

Also, Jesus? Really? That’s the H.R. Giger version of Jesus, then. It looks like an alien. Or a skull. And criminy, it’s obviously screaming. I don’t remember that part of the Bible.

Anyway, y’all know the drill. What do you see in the Rock From Space?

Tip o’ the Whipple Shield to Fark, and the legion of BABloggees who sent me word of it as well. The Fark comments are killers.

MORE ABOUT: jesus, meteorite, Pareidolia
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