Thursday, June 16, 2005

Face on Mars: Why People See What's Not There





"The ability to take in visual cues and basically fill in the blanks allows humans to process information very quickly, but new research shows that it also can lead to misperceptions -- like seeing things that are not there."

I'm going to take a more methodical stab at this fluff-science piece later, but I think it's worth noting right away that the image cited in the article is none other than the original uncorrected Viking frame (shown above) that prompted Vincent DiPietro and Greg Molenaar to hunt out a second photo of the Face that confirmed a bilaterally symmetrical facial resemblance.





Of course, this second image isn't mentioned as it devastates the article's premise. Nor is any mention given to digital processing that shows the Face to be the most non-fractal object in the region; as I stress elsewhere, the odds of a formation appearing strange to humans and impartial computers alike, while not proof of anything in particular, should at the least sound some alarm bells and indicate the "seeing faces" argument might be lacking.





In fitting with its "what I don't know, don't tell me" theme, the article also excludes mention of predicted secondary facial characteristics that have since been confirmed by high-resolution images. Foremost among these is a frankly unmistakable eye, complete with pupil, on the Face mesa's western half.

I could go on. I could, for example, point out that some people have a neurological predisposition to not recognize facial forms even when they're real. Or I could point out that a debunker's tendency not to see anything odd when confronted with the Face on Mars is just as subjective as a "believer's" tendency to perceive a humanoid face.

But why spoil the fun when there are straw men to burn?

13 comments:

TheUltimateCyn said...

HEY! Have you been watching the Wizard of Oz too? Burning strawmen... ha!

Oh, and I think that the "eye" was just formed naturally, I mean, jeez Mac! Wind forms exact eye replicas all the time.

Mac said...

If the "eye" were on the "forehead," I'd agree with you. ;-)

But not only is it a good anatomical reresentation, it's right where it should be! And it was quite specifically predicted before we even photographed it! More on this later...

Darkplanet said...

Hey Mac, Denny @ Darkplanet Online here. I would have to agree that the eye is really at the heart of the issue. This one feature on the face simply cannot be denied; especially since we have high resolution data to back it up. The odds of this feature occuring in that percise location via some kind of natural process are frankly absurd.

BTW, please feel free to use my enhancements of the feature however you see fit (in your next book or otherwise): http://www.darkplanetonline.com/facetwo.html

Mac said...

Thanks Denny. Coincidentally, I was planning on using your enhancements. You're one of the relatively few -- even among proponents of the Artificiality Hypothesis -- who realizes just how important and unlikely the "eye" feature really is.

W.M. Bear said...

Denny -- I'm also very impressed by your enlargements. I've followed Mac's postings on Cydonian Imperative, and now the detailed eye structure + the major and minor symmetries (including EXACT placement of BOTH eyes) pretty well clinches it as far as I'm concerned.

The ability to take in visual cues and basically fill in the blanks allows humans to process information very quickly, but new research shows that it also can lead to misperceptions – like seeing things that are not there.

Or like NOT seeing things that ARE there! Mac, I totally agree with your characterization of this as "fluff science." (For one thing, it's behavioral psychology, which is already a pretty fer piece down that road.)

Mac said...

It's not even good fluff science since the premise is patently incorrect (as applied to the Face on Mars). The "Man on the Moon" would be an accurate subject for this approach, but I'm sure attacking the Face made the writer think he was Carl Sagan, hence this imbecilic rehash.

He's been emailed my response, BTW.

Carol said...

Let there never be a thrust of pareidolia, without a parry of cognitive dissonance.

Mac said...

Carol--

Can I get that on a T-shirt?

Darkplanet said...

One note on the eye enhancement. I've noticed over the years that MSSS has a habit of "inverting" black and white levels on areas where "anomalies" are present. In the case of the "eye" many details pop out at you with a simple invert pass in Photoshop. This could have something to do with the infrared spectrum taking dominance in the photos. Regardless of the reasons a simple invert tends to yield more details.

I think the time for sparking public interest and debate in these anomalies has unfortunately had its day in the sun. Once Bush moved in any chances for disclosure came crashing down. What we really need now is a deep throat to come crawling out from under his desk at NASA. He/She needs to look beyond the bullshit and let those of us who really care about this subject know that we’re onto something. At this point I’m not really concerned if we can’t convince “the world” of the artificiality theory but I do want some form of personal confirmation. We (my friends and family) are ready for that reality and we won’t go all “Brookings Report” when confronted with the truth. To me there is no greater crime than the restriction and omission of historical knowledge that we deserve as a species. No one has the right to keep that kind of birthright information from us. Now more than ever this world could use a good philosophical shake up on the scale that only this knowledge could bring.

Rant over.

W.M. Bear said...

No one has the right to keep that kind of birthright information from us.

dp -- You're suggesting NASA KNOWS that there are artifacts on Mars and is deliberately keeping this fact a secret? Frankly, I'm very inclined towards this view too. The Brookings Report I think you're referring to DOES "suggest" that any discovery of ET be kept from the public, and it wouldn't surprise me if this has actually been implemented as (secret) government policy. We're all little children and can't be told the truth -- especially not under Bush!

Ken Younos said...

"dp -- You're suggesting NASA KNOWS that there are artifacts on Mars and is deliberately keeping this fact a secret? Frankly, I'm very inclined towards this view too."

But why would NASA want to keep that a secret (that's assuming that NASA knows there are artifacts on Mars).

W.M. Bear said...

But why would NASA want to keep that a secret (that's assuming that NASA knows there are artifacts on Mars).

For the reason stated. The Brookings Institute Report that I think darkplanet is referring to strongly recommends this kind of policy. And if the government did adopt it (I think the Report came out in the late 50s or early 60s), it would necessarily be as a secret protocol. It's being aware of this factor -- and noting NASA's seemingly programmatic obstinacy over even the possibility of SIMPLE life on Mars -- that makes me wonder....

Mac said...

Fortunately the European Space Agency is getting in on some Mars action now.