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Desperately seeking aliens: how we’ve always found ‘evidence’ for E.T. as we’ve explored space

Ever since we landed rovers on Mars, people have been seeing weird things in the photos those robot explorers have sent back that have been claimed to be evidence of aliens – thigh bones, skulls, doors, and many other strange ‘anomalies’ (tiny Bigfoot anyone?). And before there were rovers on the surface, we saw the ‘Face on Mars‘ from a distance.

But even well before that – in the centuries after the invention of observational astronomy – people believed they were seeing evidence for alien civilisations in the dimly lit ‘dark side’ of Venus, and the ‘canals’ of various planets, most notably Mars. And the people claiming to see these things weren’t random social media pundits, but some of the leading figures in astronomy, such as William Herschel.

And as the embedded video below points out, despite our discoveries about the solar system having been an onging process of disillusionment about the suitability of the Moon and other planets for hosting life, this trend of seeing possible E.T. anomalies has continued up until modern times, from Nikola Tesla believing he was receiving messages from aliens, through to Carl Sagan’s speculations about possibly intelligent life having existed in our Solar System.

It seems we are hard-wired to desperately seek a companion species in the cosmos – another intelligent lifeform to befriend and share this space with us (though weirdly, we don’t seem to consider other species on Earth as suitable). So we should always keep in mind that, out of that desperation, we quite often seem to be willing to fool ourself about the evidence we’re looking at (though, as I’ve pointed out before, we should also be careful of descending too far into the skeptical worldview). As the narrator points out…

Whether you’re an amateur or professional, have no experience or decades worth, you’re never quite immune to this kind of self-deception. When you want something to be true, it can be deceptively easy to convince yourself that it is.

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