Claim: Pareidolia is bias

Giddierone

Senior Member.
A recently published, June 2024, paper by a Harvard Phd, Tim Lomas, with Michael Paul Masters, and Brendon Case, makes the claim that pareidolia [the misperception of random stimuli as real things or people] is a bias that hinders the objective study of what could be real anomalies. They refer to the famous "face on mars" and other apparent structures and artefacts on Mars that have been dismissed as pareidolia.

From the paper:
Moreover, as we continue to explore space – whether distant constellations though inventions like the
James Webb Telescope, or nearer to home through initiatives like NASA’s Curiosity Rover – new evidence may
emerge that could challenge our assumptions about places like Mars. Joseph and Schild (2023) for instance,
published “a sample of official NASA Mars photographs of what appears to be the wreckage and debris from
extraterrestrial spacecraft, partially buried bones, the body of a “humanoid” stretched out on a “cushion;” the
head of a “humanoid” still wearing a metal device on the front of its “face” adjacent to a cratered debris field,
two “humanoid” skulls including one that is atop what may be a raised elongated burial mound, UAPs/UFOs
photographed in the skies of Mars and a silver-saucer shaped structure upon the ground” (p.54). Of course,
caution is needed in interpreting such data, particularly given the human cognitive habit of “pareidolia”: the
tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful, image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern. This is the
prevailing scientific interpretation of the famous “Face on Mars,” a mile-wide likeness from the Cydonia region
obtained by NASA’s Viking 1 in 1976 (Martinez-Conde & Macknik, 2012). However, we must also be wary of
simply assuming any apparently anomalous object is pareidolia, as doing so would equally be a cognitive bias
that hinders us from studying evidence with due openness and objectivity
. Indeed, some observers have argued
that when analysed in context, there are other anomalies in the vicinity of the Cydonia Face that tip the balance
towards the plausibility of it actually being an artificial construction (Corlotto, 1997).
Source: https://www.researchgate.net/public...lanation_for_Unidentified_Anomalous_Phenomena [p.8-9]. [Bold & underline added].

The implications of pareidolia actually being a bias seem huge because it might mean we really are looked down upon by a "man in the moon" and derive power for our devices directly from the kindly faces of electrial elves in our homes. The claim seems wronger than wrong.
1717581666524.png


[EDIT]
For an example of pareidolia taken to it's extremes consider Richard Shaver's Rock Books. He believed that pictoral records of an advanced civilization were encoded in rocks, which he'd cut and annotate with faces and figures to support his theory. There's a great summary with some photos here: https://cabinetmagazine.org/issues/15/tucker.php
Screenshot 2024-06-05 at 16.50.42.png

For further reference the paper above cites these two papers in support of this claim:
Evidence in support of the hypothesis that certain objects on Mars are artificial in origin
https://www.researchgate.net/public...tain_objects_on_Mars_are_artificial_in_origin
Mars: Humanoids, Bodies, Bones, Skulls, UFOs, UAPs, Spacecraft Wreckage?
https://www.researchgate.net/public...es_Bones_Skulls_UFOs_UAPs_Spacecraft_Wreckage
 
Last edited:
Pareodolia is bias caused by hundreds of millions of years of evolution making face detection a useful, and thus selected-for, trait.
There seems to be a bit of the brain (which annoyingly has an F in its acronym, but neither "face" nor "fizzog" in the expansion, thus making it completely forgettable) that activates only when shown things in a face-like arrangement, but not when shown bits of real faces that are incorrectly arranged. So any argument that we're not analysing Cydonia man correctly can be disproved by covering up parts and analysing them separately, and coming up with the same conclusions - none of it is artificial in origin.

Unfortunately the most convincing demonstrations of this effect have been in the AI realm, where it's possible to see that some neurones become indicators of face-like-ness. Which of course proves nothing about how the real brain works. Interestingly, it seems that mood interpretation - should you be scared of, or drawn to, the face that you almost instantly detected as a face - is a completely separate bit of processing. Identification - that's something completely different too.
 
I'm surprised Carlotto missed the rather obvious pareidolic faces in the "Fortress" picture (Figure 11, "Evidence in support of the hypothesis that certain objects on Mars are artificial in origin", page 12):

1717589835863.png

Instead, he tried to fit a collapsed pyramid, and suggested that "Martian pyramids" are hollow (Figure 12, "Evidence in support of the hypothesis that certain objects on Mars are artificial in origin", page 12):

1717591325445.png


External Quote:
The Fortress and an adjacent pyramidal object are similar in size, overall shape, and orientation (Figure 12). This similarity suggests the possibility that if the Fortress is artificial, it may have been an enclosed pyramidal structure that collapsed inward. This also suggests the possibility that the pyramid next to the Fort may be hollow.
Source: "Evidence in support of the hypothesis that certain objects on Mars are artificial in origin", page 12.

I'm pretty sure it's possible to fit other visual interpretations, which demonstrates it's just pareidolia.

On page 20, he gives the key to dismiss the entire paper if someone else can provide an independent visual interpretation that also fits the "Fortress" image above, as per the "Martian Native" and "Martian Lizard/Dragon" examples given. Although, in this case, evidence for pareidolia can be considered strong evidence; thus, the examples above are sufficient to dismiss the entire paper according to his own criteria:

External Quote:
It has been said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (Sagan 1985). No single piece of evidence has been found that conclusively proves that these objects on the surface of Mars are either natural or artificial (i.e., there is no “smoking gun"). But as noted by Sturrock (1994) weak evidence from multiple independent sources will do just as well. We have demonstrated that it is the quantity and diversity of all of the evidence, rather than any one piece, that makes the evidence in support of our hypothesis so strong. The alternative hypothesis is, of course, that the Face and other nearby objects are simply naturally-occurring geological formations. However no specific geological mechanism(s) have to date been put forth that are capable of explaining the diversity of forms, the patterns of organization, and the subtlety in design exhibited by this collection of objects.
Source: "Evidence in support of the hypothesis that certain objects on Mars are artificial in origin", page 20.
 
Last edited:
There appears to be a lot of debate about the causes and effects of cognitive biases in psychological literate--whether they are innate or learned, reactionary or evolutionary, the causes of specific biases, whether they can be beneficial, how to de-bias, etc. But from what I have found there seems to be a generally agreed definition that a cognitive bias is essentially a systemic and subconscious error in thinking.

Cognitive biases are unconscious and systematic errors in thinking that occur when people process and interpret information in their surroundings and influence their decisions and judgments (Kahneman et al., 1982). These biases can distort an individual's perception of reality, resulting in inaccurate information interpretation and rationally bounded decision-making (Kahneman, 2011).

Cognitive biases are systematic cognitive dispositions or inclinations in human thinking and reasoning that often do not comply with the tenets of logic, probability reasoning, and plausibility. These intuitive and subconscious tendencies are at the basis of human judgment, decision making, and the resulting behavior. Psychological frameworks consider biases as resulting from the use of (inappropriate) cognitive heuristics that people apply to deal with data-limitations, from information processing limitations, or from a lack of expertise. Neuro-evolutionary frameworks provide a more profound explanation of biases as originating from the inherent design characteristics of our brain as a neural network that was primarily developed to perform basic physical, perceptual and motor functions, and which also had to promote the survival of our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

Pareidolia (and apophenia in general) fit this definition, but the preference for assuming pareidolia over explanations we do not currently know to be possible does not seem to fit. The latter seems like an application of a statistical calculation or heuristic based on current perceptions and knowledge that actually attempts to correct for cognitive bias (even if the statistical calculation itself takes place somewhat subconsciously). One could call it a preference or bias in a general sense, but it seems very different than an immediate, involuntary impression that leads to incorrect conclusions or behaviors like pareidolia.
 
is a bias that hinders the objective study of what could be real anomalies.
The study of crappy photographs.

Dare I say it's the millions of miles to Mars that hinders objective study a bit more than bias.

I'm not stopping Corlotto from going himself. I'd quite like someone to point out what is objective about his studies too.
 
I'm surprised Carlotto missed the rather obvious pareidolic faces on the "Fortress" picture (Figure 11, "Evidence in support of the hypothesis that certain objects on Mars are artificial in origin", page 12):
Wow, that's closer to a cackling Pulcinella than Cydonia man was to anything!
 
Cydonia man correctly can be disproved by covering up parts and analysing them separately, and coming up with the same conclusions - none of it is artificial in origin
Agreed.

Elsewhere in the same paper the authors appear to rely on pareidolia to connect the dots between the oceans being relatively unexplored, tales of NHI bases in the oceans, and the nickname given to a UAP promoted on social media.
there have been UAP events involving objects or entities that would appear to resemble some form of marine life, such as an airborne
incursion over a US military base by an object resembling a “jellyfish” that has been officially designated as a
UAP by intelligence agencies, as noted above.
[p.15 bold added]

Similarly they reference a golden "orb" discovered on the sea floor and allude to some kind of connection.

Screenshot 2024-06-06 at 10.01.16.png


[Source: https://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/news/oer-updates/2023/golden-orb.html ]
 
Are any of the other cases they refer to actually pareidolia? I can't accept wreckage and debris from extraterrestrial spacecraft is.
Yeah, I'd say so:
External Quote:
the tendency to perceive a specific, often meaningful image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern.
Source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pareidolia

That seems to me to include seeing a rock or some rocks, weathered some random way, and seeing a face, or a crashed space ship, or other things that it is not (because it is just a rock.).
 
I shortened the title of the post to "Pareidolia is a bias", but this is the fuller question:
Is pareidolia "a cognitive bias that hinders us from studying evidence with due openness and objectivity" as the paper claims. There are those, such as Richard Shaver mentioned above, who don't think pareidolia is a real thing, and the pattern, face, organisation, etc that they are percieving is not a misperception but reality.
 
There has to be a difference between pareidolia and wanting too see something.
Does there? We humans like to see faces, so we tend to see them whether they are there or not.

I am more interested than kites than most here, I tend to see something in the sky and think I've seen a kite -- sometimes it is, sometimes after looking a bit more, it isn't. There's lots of stuff in the sky!

Some people like to look at pictures of Mars hoping to see evidence of lost civilizations and aliens and the like. The landscape is littered with oddly shaped bits of rock, and the longer they look, the more things that look like something else they can find.

To me, that seems to be the same brain hardware/software doing the same sort of thing. Perhaps there should be a word for it when it is driven by less universal interests, like Martian aliens and interesting kites, as opposed to by a more universal interest like faces? But they all are finding a consciously or subconsciously looked-for signal that is in fact not there. I'm comfortable using the same label for all of it, unless somebody knows a more precise set of terms that differentiates between , maybe, pareidolia driven by hard-wired subconscious "searches" and pareidolia driven by acquired interests more-or-less consciously looked for.


Then I challenge you to create a random pattern that one single person would think looks like alien spaceship debris.
If I created it trying to make it look like a spaceship debris, it wouldn't be random, though, would it? If it looked too much like space debris, I'd be open to accusations of intentionally creating images of debris. The obvious example of such a thing free of my intent to rig the experiment would be the folks who spend hours looking for rocks on Mars that look like machine bits, aliens, terrestrial animals and construction debris, all of which are found but none of which (so far) have been proven to actually be something you could find on Mars.

An interesting experiment would be to get image-creating AI to generate a bunch of images of the surface Mars and show them to folks who see such things on Mars and find out if they also see them in the AI images. I'd be tempted to give it a try, but the ethics of running experiments on human subjects would need to be considered, and are not something I have trainning/knowledge in. I also would be suspicious that an AI training set might have enough scifi art in it that such stuff might creep in to the drawing?
 
There has to be a difference between pareidolia and wanting too see something.
There is a huge difference between "pareidolia because a person really thinks it looks like something" and "pareidolia-lite because a person wants to find something to sensationalize on a YouTube channel", but I don't think that's what you mean. Essentially they are both pareidolia, but the motivation is different.
 
I shortened the title of the post to "Pareidolia is a bias", but this is the fuller question:
Is pareidolia "a cognitive bias that hinders us from studying evidence with due openness and objectivity" as the paper claims. There are those, such as Richard Shaver mentioned above, who don't think pareidolia is a real thing, and the pattern, face, organisation, etc that they are percieving is not a misperception but reality.
Because it's a real bias that causes impossible things to be included in someone's list of possibilities, I'd say that yes, it can potentially hinder objectivity.
The openness question is surely post hoc reasoning. I'd say that someone who will hinder openness after being fooled by pareidolia was already the kind of person who was willing to hinder openness, and an instance of pareidolia was just an excuse to reify that other, bigger, flaw.
But this post belongs in "chit chat", because that's, like, just my opinion, man.
 
the folks who spend hours looking for rocks on Mars that look like machine bits, aliens, terrestrial animals and construction debris, all of which are found but none of which (so far) have been proven to actually be something you could find on Mars.
Such as Joseph and Schild.

Perhaps there should be a word for it when it is driven by less universal interests, like Martian aliens and interesting kites, as opposed to by a more universal interest like faces?
Paranolia?
 
Here's one; the Baltic Sea anomaly
Baltic_Sea_anomaly.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_Sea_anomaly
Almost certainly a natural geological formation, and all the samples seem to indicate that, but it does look like the Millennium Falcon.
Like, I get it, and I guess to argue it's not pareidolia is impossible, although pareidolia might as well just be cos things are the same shape as other things.

I guess what I'm getting at is it's not just pareidolia. Or possibly taking advantage of it. Forcing it. I dunno.

Figure 6 in this PDF could be a case the article refers to (apologies, I dunno if I'm allowed to just cut the image out and post it here) ->
Source: https://www.scribd.com/document/668911946/MarsHumanoidsUAPsFINAL


Why do I roll my eyes at it instead of seeing spacecraft debris?

I don't believe I'm so quick to dismiss it just because of pareidolia. But this article wants us to believe it is.
 
Why do I roll my eyes at it instead of seeing spacecraft debris?
I think when people go looking for shapes on Mars, it's evident that they're people who want to find things to fit a narrative, and this alone can make their findings suspect. It's amusing to find shapes in the clouds. It can be productive to find sites on earth that indicate they might be worth exploring for such purposes as mining or archaeological studies. It is more like science fiction to posit civilizations on Mars based on nothing but shapes on the ground.
But the "gee whiz" photos from Mars (which all look like rocks to me) are often photographed from other angles or at higher resolutions which clarify the shapes, so when these stories periodically crop up, the writer has been extremely selective. For example, the writers zero in on a tiny bright portion of this photo in that article, completely oblivious to the huge area of equal or greater brightness to the left of that which makes it not unlikely that he is seeing a little bit more of the same shiny rock formation. There's another spot to the far right. Nothing but the shape (dare I say Tic-tac?) suggests a craft of any sort. I also note that no scale is given, and have no idea of the size of any of the features. As I recall, the cameras on Curiosity can get down to nine microns per pixel, so some of those pictures may be of things at the scale of a grain of sand.

IMG_2562.jpeg
 
Last edited:
I think when people go looking for shapes on Mars, it's evident that they're people who want to find things to fit a narrative, and this alone can make their findings suspect.

A related point... there are a LOT of pictures of the surface of Mars now, each one with a lot of rocks in it, all the rocks formed into shapes by an environment not quite like the one where we live (gravity, humidity, humidity and rainfall, atmospheric density and wind force, temperature, etc.) producing some rocks that don't look like what our brains have learned to expect a rock to look like!
5oQ8cB953wfSCxFSec8vvj.jpg


There are a lot of possible candidates for whatever you are looking to find. "Million to one chances" crop up now and then if you look at "millions of rocks."
 
I suppose if the idea is that pareidolia is real and happens all the time, therefore we need to be careful to not dismiss actual things for pareidolia, then ok. Although it reminds me a bit of a saying on a Tee shirt I remember from my early teen years. At the time it took me a while to comprehend it:

"Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they are not really out to get you".

Here it's "Just because pareidolia is almost hardwired into human brains and happens all the time, maybe that face is really a face" or something like that. Fair enough, but that's not what seems to be going on. I'd argue this is just the classic maneuver in UFOlogy, Bigfootery and other fringe causes to shift the burden of proof.

The claim becomes "Yes pareidolia is real, but you can't PROVE it's pareidolia that is creating the Face on Mars, so maybe it's not pareidolia. And if it's not pareidolia, then it really is a Face on Mars, therefore ALIENS until you can prove it's just pareidolia". Ball is squarely back in the skeptic's court.

The part of the other referanced paper provided by @john.phil above (post #3) illustrates this even more clearly. First, the author acknowledges the burden of proof:
External Quote:

It has been said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (Sagan 1985).
But then instead of providing any evidence, besides pareidolia, he begins to shift the burden:

External Quote:
No single piece of evidence has been found that conclusively proves that these objects on the surface of Mars are either natural or artificial (i.e., there is no “smoking gun").
So, now the burden of proof is of equal weight. Not only does he need a "smoking gun" of some sort to prove the objects are artificial, meaning built by aliens, but now the skeptic also needs a "smoking gun" to prove rocks and stuff on a naturally occurring planet are in fact natural.

Having now established that he and the skeptic have the same evidentiary burden, he reverts to another often-used ploy, the "sum is greater than the parts". He may not have a "smoking gun", but he doesn't need one:

External Quote:
But as noted by Sturrock (1994) weak evidence from multiple independent sources will do just as well. We have demonstrated that it is the quantity and diversity of all of the evidence, rather than any one piece, that makes the evidence in support of our hypothesis so strong.
This is common in UFOlogy, the argument being "All these people can't be wrong can they? There are just too many sightings to dismiss them all as hoaxes or misidentified things right?" Lacking any good evidence, the idea is to heap up piles of poor evidence. A 1+1=5 argument. Having amassed a bunch of crap, they challenge the skeptic to explain all of the bad evidence. During the course of which more bad evidence is continued to be piled up. A Gish Gallop of sorts.

Of course, when skeptics use a similar argument, it is challenged. If a skeptic shows that 95 of 100 UFO reports had prosaic explanations like planes and hoaxes, so it's likely the other 5 do also, this reasoning is rejected and flipped around as now the 5 unexplained reports become proof of aliens.

The idea is to just keep trolling out new and different things and challenge the skeptic to prove they are not what is claimed. As here, having suggested that pareidolia may not be the cause of these various objects on Mars, the author now places the burden of proof on the skeptic to show each and every geological mechanism that can create each and every object, otherwise ALEINS!
External Quote:

The alternative hypothesis is, of course, that the Face and other nearby objects are simply naturally-occurring geological formations. However no specific geological mechanism(s) have to date been put forth that are capable of explaining the diversity of forms, the patterns of organization, and the subtlety in design exhibited by this collection of objects.
https://www.researchgate.net/public...tain_objects_on_Mars_are_artificial_in_origin
 
The dishonesty of those "alien artefacts found on Mars papers" is breathtaking. They deliberatly label rover instruments incorrectly, use heavy photoshop filters, and crop images that otherwise would show the same lens artifact occurs across numerous frames. For example they label this image (below) "Hazcam L" - when there is only a F and R Hazcam. What I find most outrgeous is the implied consipracy of silence, or ineptitude, of the Curiosity team who have overlooked these obviously non-human items. You only need to see how excited the technicians get during a spacecraft launch, fist pumping when a booster fires or parachute opens etc, to see that they'd be the first to do cartwheels if such things were really to be found on Mars.
Screenshot 2024-06-07 at 16.42.54.png

The same artefact is in this photo taken on a different day:
Screenshot 2024-06-07 at 16.45.16.png

...and again in this image:
Screenshot 2024-06-07 at 16.26.04.png


(Sigh). Debunking each of their claims is an endless pointless task.
another often-used ploy, the "sum is greater than the parts".
Exactly! The gestalt arguement. Which is why all these dubious "academic" papers seem so egregious.
 
Last edited:
A recently published, June 2024, paper by a Harvard Phd, Tim Lomas, with Michael Paul Masters, and Brendon Case, makes the claim that pareidolia [the misperception of random stimuli as real things or people] is a bias that hinders the objective study of what could be real anomalies. They refer to the famous "face on mars" and other apparent structures and artefacts on Mars that have been dismissed as pareidolia.

From the paper:

Source: https://www.researchgate.net/public...lanation_for_Unidentified_Anomalous_Phenomena [p.8-9]. [Bold & underline added].

The implications of pareidolia actually being a bias seem huge because it might mean we really are looked down upon by a "man in the moon" and derive power for our devices directly from the kindly faces of electrial elves in our homes. The claim seems wronger than wrong.
View attachment 69030

[EDIT]
For an example of pareidolia taken to it's extremes consider Richard Shaver's Rock Books. He believed that pictoral records of an advanced civilization were encoded in rocks, which he'd cut and annotate with faces and figures to support his theory. There's a great summary with some photos here: https://cabinetmagazine.org/issues/15/tucker.php
View attachment 69067
For further reference the paper above cites these two papers in support of this claim:
Evidence in support of the hypothesis that certain objects on Mars are artificial in origin
https://www.researchgate.net/public...tain_objects_on_Mars_are_artificial_in_origin
Mars: Humanoids, Bodies, Bones, Skulls, UFOs, UAPs, Spacecraft Wreckage?
https://www.researchgate.net/public...es_Bones_Skulls_UFOs_UAPs_Spacecraft_Wreckage
I gave this a winner rating because of the message. I'm going to try to fine tune the message.

The claim is that the appeal to pareidolia is a rationalization to justify a cognitive bias. Not the cognitive bias itself.

The title of the thread should be "Woo Scientists Once Again Accuse Skeptics of Confirmation Bias." Or perhaps "Galileo - Unwilling Patron Saint of Woo Masters."



IMO: In this paper Lomas, Masters and Case have presented a rationalization that attempts to justify and maintain a fixed belief (or over valued idea, take your pick).

They are intelligent and they've come up with a high quality rationalization.

Their message:
"Skeptics have correctly shown how pareidolia has led to an untrue assessment of the 'Face on Mars' - and other cases. However, Skeptics are making a fundamental mistake. Just because the Face on Mars is not a representation of a humanoid face does not prove that it is not an unnatural, constructed feature. They are throwing out the baby with the bath water. We argue that these so-called Skeptics are biased against listening to reason just because some ideas are outside of the mainstream."

In other words, "They aren't listening to us as we continue our arguments in favor of the overvalued idea that there's something very strange going on." Not their words but that's the message I perceive.

Lomas, Masters and Case aren't citing pareidolia as a cognitive bias. They are talking about...

Confirmation bias - the tendency to search for, interpret, and remember information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions or existing beliefs while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

This was something I came across a thousand times when listening to Flat Earthers. They were constantly accusing Globetards of indulging in confirmation bias.

Lomas, Masters and Case are more sophisticated in their presentation, but it's still the same old tired flipping the argument thing.

The whole thing seems to me to be another example of the Galileo Gambit.

- A logical fallacy that occurs when someone defends an unaccepted or controversial viewpoint by comparing themselves to Galileo Galilei, implying that since Galileo was persecuted for his revolutionary ideas (which later turned out to be correct), the current controversial viewpoint must also be valid or correct simply because it is opposed by the mainstream. This argument is flawed because it disregards the necessity of evidence and scientific reasoning to validate a claim.
 
Last edited:
The claim becomes "Yes pareidolia is real, but you can't PROVE it's pareidolia that is creating the Face on Mars, so maybe it's not pareidolia. And if it's not pareidolia, then it really is a Face on Mars, therefore ALIENS until you can prove it's just pareidolia". Ball is squarely back in the skeptic's court.
The counter to that is "We know pareidolia happens, and that some things look like other totally unrelated things. We do not know aliens exist, much less on Mars. The extraordinary claim is YOURS, Mr. and Ms. Believer, something that looks like a face unless you get a clearer picture of it or a pic lit from another angle falls short of being extraordinary evidence. Ball remains in your court."

image4.gif



PS: Nobody tell them that if you just turn the picture upside down, it looks like a GRAY!!!
sddefault.jpg


But if your Mysterious Face looks like different faces depending on which way you turn it, it is probably not really a face...
 
"We know pareidolia happens, and that some things look like other totally unrelated things. We do not know aliens exist, much less on Mars. The extraordinary claim is YOURS, Mr. and Ms. Believer, something that looks like a face unless you get a clearer picture of it or a pic lit from another angle falls short of being extraordinary evidence. Ball remains in your court."

Agreed, but that's not how they play. In the referenced paper that I and John.Phil pulled from, the author uses the Drake equation to basically say his hypothesis is justified:

External Quote:
However estimates of extraterrestrial (ET) visitation in our solar system (Foster 1972) derived from a
variation of the Drake Equation used to justify the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) by
radio does suggest that ETs have may have visited our solar system in the last ten million years. If
ETs did construct large artificial structures on Mars over this period (for whatever purpose) it is
likely that they have been fairly well preserved by the Martian environment and are detectable by
remote sensing (Foster 1972, Carlotto and Stein 1990). This in itself provides a plausible
justification for our hypothesis. The null hypothesis that none of the objects are artificial represents
the view of many in the planetary science community (e.g., Sagan, 1996)
https://www.researchgate.net/public...tain_objects_on_Mars_are_artificial_in_origin

Not saying aliens for sure, but...Then we get this set of neat looking equations. @FatPhil is good mates with Mr. Bayes, so I'll let him have a go at this (screen shot to maintain the flow):

1717790543216.png


Mayan glyphs make more sense to me than what's above, but I did find this part interesting:

1717790669950.png


Really? Any hypothesis from the very start has a 50/50 chance of being right? If I stand at the seashore and say "My hypothesis says the ocean is cheese whiz. The null hypothesis is that it's water. I got a 50/50 shot at being right, so I'll bring my bag of chips with me". Again, something for @FatPhil to ponder and/or explain.

He goes on to say that when the weight of his evidence is calculated, the odds are higher than 50/50. I'm reading this as mathematical proof of "the sum is greater than the parts" strategy. Lots of small bits and pieces, regardless of their validity, add up to high probability that the hypothesis is correct:

1717791231733.png

1717791273381.png


So, for slow people like me I've been confronted with the mathematical likelihood that aliens could have visited Mars and that there's a very high probability that the objects on Mars are artificial, therefor aliens! Unless I can prove the null hypothesis.

In this case there is also the paper itself:

The dishonesty of those "alien artefacts found on Mars papers" is breathtaking.

To be fair, the paper I was using was written in '94 using photos from the '70s. Unless one is a full NASA conspiracy person, the Face on Mars has been photographed many times since with much better resolution and been shown to not be a face. Null hypothesis proven I would say, at least for the Face.

That being the case, why would anyone in 2024 being using it as a reference? It's hopelessly outdated. It reminds me of the Ancient high tech Egyptian civilization proponents and their constant references to Flinders Pietri. He was a serious archaeologist, for the time, but that was mostly the end of the 19th to the early 20th century. Egyptology has come a long way, just like Mars exploration. Why use old, outdated information? Unless of course one doesn't like the new information.
 
why would anyone in 2024 being using it as a reference?
So - and this is perhaps a topic for it's own separate thread - it seems to be part of the broad "confluence of evidence" argument that is being made by the authors (and others) who are pumping out "academic" papers that throw the kitchen-sink at trying to support the reality of "the phenomenon". They want "scientific openness" and "epistemic humility". In this paper, and their others, they cite the entire panoply of scientists, academics, military and IC people, journalists, to named and anonymous social media accounts as well as UFO stories old and new. I think doing so is a kind of academic bootstrappery. Citations upon citations.

Their bottom line seems to be that "serious" enquiring minds shouldn't rule anything out. With so much noise there must be a signal - or with such an apparent pattern there must be a cause ∴ aliens.
 
So - and this is perhaps a topic for it's own separate thread - it seems to be part of the broad "confluence of evidence" argument that is being made by the authors (and others) who are pumping out "academic" papers that throw the kitchen-sink at trying to support the reality of "the phenomenon".

Agreed. It could use its own thread, even if just in chitchat. My kids and daughter in law are grad students, so they understand looking at journals much better than me, but I've noticed in various threads I've been on or even started, The Journal of Scientific Exploration comes up a lot. It seems to pop up as a cited peer reviewed journal, but it also has lots of very fringy things in it.

I don't know enough about journal rankings to completely understand it all. If a lot of contributors to that particular journal are consistently citing other works that appear in that same journal, does it boost the ranking of that journal? Even if it's a bit circular? Obviously, the more specialized the journal, the more likely various contributors are going to cite each other, but if 3-4 people all write journal articles about the Face on Mars and then cite each other about the Face on Mars does it make the journal articles about the Face on Mars appear more academic than they really are?

I could post a serious of articles from this journal related to UFOs and such just searching a bit through the forum.

Again, maybe a separate thread.
 
I don't know enough about journal rankings to completely understand it all.
Nor do I, but the "Journal of astrophysics and aerospace technology" (from which all those pictures in post number 20 are found) has an H-index (and yes, I had to look that up) of only five, which sounds pretty pitiful. It means that an author has only five papers with five or more citations, or something like that, and I was insufficiently interested to try to figure out if that applies to an author, a group of authors, or a journal itself.

https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=nhn604oAAAAJ
 
Agreed, but that's not how they play. In the referenced paper that I and John.Phil pulled from, the author uses the Drake equation to basically say his hypothesis is justified:

External Quote:
However estimates of extraterrestrial (ET) visitation in our solar system (Foster 1972) derived from a
variation of the Drake Equation used to justify the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) by
radio does suggest that ETs have may have visited our solar system in the last ten million years. If
ETs did construct large artificial structures on Mars over this period (for whatever purpose) it is
likely that they have been fairly well preserved by the Martian environment and are detectable by
remote sensing (Foster 1972, Carlotto and Stein 1990). This in itself provides a plausible
justification for our hypothesis. The null hypothesis that none of the objects are artificial represents
the view of many in the planetary science community (e.g., Sagan, 1996)
https://www.researchgate.net/public...tain_objects_on_Mars_are_artificial_in_origin

Not saying aliens for sure, but...Then we get this set of neat looking equations. @FatPhil is good mates with Mr. Bayes, so I'll let him have a go at this (screen shot to maintain the flow):

View attachment 69136

The formula for 'L' is correct.

Mayan glyphs make more sense to me than what's above, but I did find this part interesting:

View attachment 69137

Really? Any hypothesis from the very start has a 50/50 chance of being right? If I stand at the seashore and say "My hypothesis says the ocean is cheese whiz. The null hypothesis is that it's water. I got a 50/50 shot at being right, so I'll bring my bag of chips with me". Again, something for @FatPhil to ponder and/or explain.
Yes, any hypothesis has (trivially) a 50/50 probability of being true, but only when no informations at all are known:
We start from a probability which is called 'the prior'. In the most extreme case, when we know nothing else except the claim, all bets are off and the probabilities are 50%/50%, that is to say, the prior odds are 1:1 (odds and probabilities are the same thing, just written in a different way, but in this context odds are often easier to use). Example: is the claim "John is taller than Mark" [compared to "Mark is taller than John] true or false? Having no idea of who John and Mark are, it's 50%/50% (odds are 1:1). In other cases there is some other information from which a better prior probability can be estimated: "Mary is taller than Mark" is more probably false, because Mary is probably the name of a female, John is probably a male, and females are usually not as tall as males. And in this case, with some statistics about the occurence of John and Mary among males and females, and some statistics about the height of females vs. males we could derive a rather precise estimation of the prior probability. But in any case, what's important is that we always have a starting point for the calculations, even if it's just an uninformative 50%/50%
https://www.metabunk.org/threads/sh...ting-the-truth-of-competing-hypothesis.13425/



He goes on to say that when the weight of his evidence is calculated, the odds are higher than 50/50. I'm reading this as mathematical proof of "the sum is greater than the parts" strategy. Lots of small bits and pieces, regardless of their validity, add up to high probability that the hypothesis is correct:

View attachment 69138
View attachment 69139

It's trivially true that if all the pieces of evidence favor one of the hypothesis with odds (W) of say 3:1 then the final odds of the hypothesis to be true are

L = (3/1) * (3/1) * (3/1) * ..... * (3/1) * prior_odds

and, obviously, having 16 pieces of evidence, each of which supports one hypothesis with 3:1 odds, ends up multiplying the prior by ~ 43 millions (3 rasied to the 16th power) and will easily overcome a prior odd of 1 in one million. In fact, this is what we would call having extraordinary evidence! But the problem is having that kind of evidence in the first place... do they really present 16 pieces of evidence which are three times more probable on their hypothesis rather than on the null hypothesis? That's the rub! They have rigorously demonstrated that, if one has strong evidence, then his hypothesis is strongly supported (and who ever denied this?). But what the paper lacks is the demonstration that they have any strong evidence at all.

(I have no time to read that paper at the moment, but I plan to do it later and then comment on the value of their 'evidences')
 
Last edited:
Any hypothesis from the very start has a 50/50 chance of being right? If I stand at the seashore and say "My hypothesis says the ocean is cheese whiz. The null hypothesis is that it's water. I got a 50/50 shot at being right, so I'll bring my bag of chips with me". Again, something for @FatPhil to ponder and/or explain.
Firstly, the text extracts are the naive version of Bayes, proper full-fat Bayes works keeps the probability as an unknown that has a distribution. They, however, correctly manipulated all the glyphs. I don't think they're strict enough about independence of events, which can in extremis leads to the Black Raven Paradox (Hempel's Paradox). They're also ignoring all of the evidence that supports the contrary conclusion. Which outnumbers the evidence for the conclusion by a dozen orders of magnitude. Every time someone looks out of a window and doesn't see an alien, that supports a claim of no visitations. And that's happened to almost every person several times every day. Sure, it's only weak evidence as you're only seeing a small bit of the sky, but they're the guys who set the bar low.

So even if you start with 50/50, everything mundane and non-cheesy pushes that likelyhood to near zero very quickly.
 
They're also ignoring all of the evidence that supports the contrary conclusion. Which outnumbers the evidence for the conclusion by a dozen orders of magnitude. Every time someone looks out of a window and doesn't see an alien, that supports a claim of no visitations. And that's happened to almost every person several times every day. Sure, it's only weak evidence as you're only seeing a small bit of the sky, but they're the guys who set the bar low.

So even if you start with 50/50, everything mundane and non-cheesy pushes that likelyhood to near zero very quickly.

Indeed.

Even more fundamentally, they do not explain at all why the 'evidence' they present has a 3:1 to 5:1 odds ratios of being more probable on the 'artificial' rather than on the 'natural' hypothesis, they don't even say that! But then, miracolously, after explaining Bayesian logic (a totally unneeded detour, smoke in the eyes) their 'evidence' is treated as it had the required 3:1 to 5:1 ratio. They just assumed the reader will not notice (or they did not notice this themselves: basically, they deluded themselves (this would be my preferred bet)).

That said, it can be interesting to speculate (nothing more is possible, having no informations at all on what their reasoning was) on why one could mistakenly deduce that this image:
1717838728631.png

has a 3:1 odds of existing if the 'face' is artificial rather than natural. Here all what @FatPhil says is true: our old friend cherry picking. Put in all the evidence, for instance this image of the same Mars feature:
1717838926341.png

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cydonia_(Mars)

... and the odds of it being artificial drop to (say) 1:1000. I guess the same goes for all the other '16' pieces of evidence presented in the paper, I say "I guess" because it's even difficult to understand which exactly those '16' pieces are... it's really a lousy, not even wrong paper.
 
It looks like my brewing spoon, and reminds me I need to get brewing again.
Because it's shaped exactly like a spoon. It's not that the rock looks like a spoon. It's the rock is in the shape of a spoon.

There's nothing random or nebulous about the stimuli.

I don't see spoons in random or nebulous stimuli either.

I'm not sure that looking for things that are the shape of other things is really pareidolia and I think a lot of the cases this article talk about are just that.
 
Last edited:
Here's one; the Baltic Sea anomaly
Baltic_Sea_anomaly.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baltic_Sea_anomaly
Almost certainly a natural geological formation, and all the samples seem to indicate that, but it does look like the Millennium Falcon.
This only works because the millennium falcon is meaningful, to those who have seen it.

Spacecraft debris is not meaningful. Nor are spoons.

To me, the spacecraft debris photo isn't making a case that the rocks are shaped like spacecraft debris but more that something couldn't randomly form into the shapes that they are.

Calling it pareidolia is actually giving it credit.
 
Back
Top