Into the Weird Part 4
Welcome to another "episode" of everyone's favorite educational journey into the realm of fringe ideas and pseudoscience designed to hopefully enlighten both believer and skeptic alike. Today we're going to talk about two more far-out ideas in the world of the weird. First up we're going to talk about potential time travelers and whether there is photographic evidence of them. We're going to follow up with a bit of speculation about aliens on Mars.
Before we depart on our journey here are links to previous installments of Into the Weird:
Time Travelers on Film?
In the first ever journey Into the Weird that we took together I talked about reclusive researcher Ronald Pegg and a particularly odd photo he had. The picture in question purports to show Joseph Smith, of Mormon fame, holding what appears to be a plastic CD case. Of course there are plenty of alterative and more rational explanations than the idea that a time traveler gave Mister Smith a CD-ROM containing information which then informed his religious beliefs but that is the conclusion of Ronald Pegg and those who follow his work.
However this is certainly not the only piece of photo or video evidence meant to prove time travel. In the not too distant past a video was passed around on the internet of a supposed Time Traveler in footage associated with Charlie Chaplin. The man, wearing a trench coat and big clown shoes, appears to be talking into a cell phone long before such devices existed. As tends to happen people online took sides as to which camp they were on. There is no doubt that the footage seems authentic and is a bit odd, take a look, skip to about 2:40 for the footage:
It should seem fairly obvious that this isn't a time traveler. For one thing he appears to be part of the production of whatever film or performance Charlie Chaplin was working on. So unless people are so hard pressed for work that they want to steal the acting jobs of people from the past (South Park Goo Back style) there is little chance this is a time traveler. But wait, I here believers saying (as if any of them will actually find this and read it) perhaps he's dressed that way to blend in, sort of the way Samuel Beckett might assume his role perfectly despite traveling through time in Quantum Leap.
Of course there's the cell phone to worry about as well. Who is he talking to? Is this really Quantum Leap? Could that be Dr. Beckett trying to talk to Al, or even Ziggy? I'm kidding of course but hopefully you understand the obvious problem of taking a cell phone back in time. Who would they call? How would the device even function? You can see an interesting explanation from the Discovery's (as in the channel) youtube channel here:
A second intriguing case of a supposed time traveler was one I was alerted to while browsing the fringe site Abovetopsecret.com, a great place to get educated on the vast array of bizarre beliefs and ideas floating around the online pseudoscientific conspiracy theory community. It's a photo supposedly taken in the 1940s depicting a crowd of people with one man who appears clearly out of place. The man is wearing sunglasses and looks more like a 20 something young adult of modern day than someone who belongs in this photo.
My first instinct, of course, is photoshop or some other editing technique or photographic error. To my knowledge no one has ever solved the mystery entirely. Though if you look at that guy he doesn't appear to be the sort of person who we'd send back in time does he? He certainly doesn't resemble a research scientist and if he's a time traveler he's gotten his clothes all wrong for the period. Of course Marty McFly didn't do a very good job of fitting in with the 1950s either so I suppose the man in the photo might just be trying to get his parents to the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance...
In all seriousness though I can see no good reason to assume these are legitimately time travelers especially in the age of the computer when things can be so easily edited.
Now I don't really think there are many "true believers" in these pieces of "evidence". Most people who defend them are likely just doing so for fun. It can be stimulating to accept an absurd premise as true, to sort of entertain the idea even if its silly. Some on the other hand will not only defend their position but will go so far as to claim absurd government cover-ups - the perfect transition for my next topic.
Photographic Evidence of Martian Life?
For centuries mankind has wondered whether there were men on other worlds, intelligent life like our own, and speculation has abounded both from the real science end and the pseudoscience end (and of course the science fiction end). A few decades ago a strange geological structure on Mars caught the imagination of the world because of its face-like appearance. The so-called face on Mars gathered an almost cult-like following despite being debunked as a mere case of Pareidolia when the site was further imaged and found to be a fairly mundane formation.
This hasn't stopped believers and people hoping for alien brothers on our crimson celestial neighbor to scour photos of mars searching for evidence of alien life overlooked by NASA. Any time NASA messes with the coloration of a photo or edits it in anyway before release they are usually slapped with cover-up, this doesn't stop pseudoscientists from managing to find evidence of aliens in the photos that NASA eventually does release however. Such as this photo supposedly showing an alien being on the desolate Martian surface.
Of course this is just an optical illusion and yet another example of how our minds seek patterns in the random. If you look closely the "alien" actually appears to be of a species we're quite familiar with down here on Earth.
Now let’s pull back a bit, because the actual supposed Martian man here is just one tiny speck on a panorama view of the Martian surface taken from the rover. I downloaded the actual full NASA panorama which is a massive amount of pixels in size and spent a good ten minutes before I found the actual part of the photo in question. I think after writing this I will need to scrub images of random Martian rocks from the back of my eyelids. One has to wonder just how long it took them to notice this the first time around and to come to the conclusion that it wasn’t just an interesting rock formation that gives the illusion of a humanoid sitting on a rock.
Of course any of these rocks, if you’re willing to believe, is either a fossil or a living creature. I’ve found quite a few sites throughout the years that will literally zoom in to any random rock in a photo and make wild claims about it. Any Martian rock might be an ornate carving or statue left by an ancient civilization, a fossil skull from a race of human-alien hybrids, or a living breathing alien being that just happens to look identical to a rock unless you pixelate the living hell out of it and squint really hard while inebriated all while already believing in Martian life. For instance while searching for alien life in that panorama I found evidence that not only do aliens exist but that Japanese researchers have been filtering us information about them secretly:
The worst part of all this are the poor unfortunate saps going around buying up books and seeing lectures by the people who peddle this sort of pseudoscientific slop as truth. Those who truly believe that zoomed and painfully pixelated images of the Martian topography are some sort of Holy Grail and actually count as any kind of evidence of Martian life. I wouldn’t put it past these people to use the same pattern-finding techniques to discover Earth’s ancient alien past. In fact I already did, I used Google Earth to locate a face on Earth that rivals the one on Mars and certainly puts that tiny Tusken Raider to shame:
The odd thing is that when researchers put forth these photos as evidence NASA and other skeptics often shoot them down as what they are, rock formations. These simple mundane explanations are often laughed at by believers as absurd. The same sort of laughter is generated any time an official explanation of a UFO comes out, it doesn’t matter how closely the skeptic’s explanation fits the actual sighting. A scoffing laugh followed by: “I suppose next you’ll tell me Roswell really was a weather balloon” is a common response.
I should know it was the sort of sarcastic quip you would have caught me making in my hayday as a believer in all sorts of wild subjects. Surprisingly though repackaging pics of Martian soil samples as aliens never caught on with me and looking back as a skeptic it’s not hard to see why. This stuff makes ordinary pseudoscience look like sound peer reviewed research by comparison.
We’ve reached the end of yet another trek deep into the tangled vines of the pseudoscientific jungle. This installment was primarily one that focused on photos. I hope it was entertaining and I hope it was educational on some level. I also hope that you will join me next time for more harrowing travels into the weird.
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