A crab! A spoon! A crashed UFO! Clearly, the Curiosity Rover is busy excavating the remains of an alien party and NASA totally didn’t tell us. The proof is right there!
Except not exactly. You see, there a much simpler explanation for those infuriating alien artefacts that keep cropping up on the Red Planet. It’s the same reason people see Jesus and Elvis in their potato chips.
It’s called pareidolia and it’s this funny quirk of having a squishy carbon brain with limited bandwidth — one that’s always trying to turn images of the unknown into something familiar. Can’t stop seeing rats, mermaids and acts of sorcery on Mars? Thank your lazy sensory-motor cortex.
To get into the how and why of the Potato Chip Elvis phenomenon, Vice conducted an interview with neuroscientist Joel Voss, whose research shows that sadly, our brains are not very good at being sceptical when processing new visual information. Go read it right now, and tell me that doesn’t make a weeee bit more sense than Barack Obama’s secret humanoid reptilian army bunking up in plain sight on Mars. (Please. They’re hiding in the Amazon).
Of course, if you yourself were abducted, that’s another matter entirely.
— Steve Martin (@SteveMartinToGo) September 3, 2015
Top image: The spoon. Via NASA/JPL-CALTECH/MSSS