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Alien Life On Mars? No, It's Just Another Case Of Pareidolia

06/07/2015 15:38 BST | Updated 06/07/2015 15:59 BST

Is there an alien face on Mars? Or maybe it's an ancient pyramid? Actually no, it's probably just a statue of Bill Clinton.

Ok so two of those things have been spotted on Mars, and while we're pretty sure that Bill Clinton isn't one of them, the fact remains that it is probably just a matter of time before someone does notice something that looks remarkably like the 42nd President of the United States.

face on mars

First taken in 1976 by the Viking I spaceship, the iconic 'Face on Mars' photo quickly became the catalyst for all our alien-hunting dreams.

It was so clearly a face that actually, how could it not? As the rumour mill spun even faster, NASA realised that it was fighting something that literally didn't exist.

Restricted by the technology of the time, the only reason the face existed was down to a lack of pixels and definition, of course at the time nobody wanted to hear that.

Of course since then 'Face on Mars' has been proven wrong. It wasn't an alien artefact, and it certainly wasn't the skeletal remains of some giant humanoid.

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So why was it that back in 1976 we were so unwilling to accept the truth? A little mentioned phenomena known as pareidolia.

It's the condition that can either be one of the human race's most powerfully positive traits, or one of its most damaging depending on how you look at it.

From seeing Jesus' face in a slice of toast to a fleet of UFOs in cloud patterns it describes our need to explain something not as it logically should be, but rather by what we'd like it to be.

pareidolia

Reddit is a veritable library of trees, burnt toast and weird cloud formations.

People saw the face on Mars because they wanted to, not because scientifically it was most likely explanation.

This all-encompassing optimism is the reason that when we see a story which has the word 'UFO' on it, or 'Aliens' in the headline we have to click on it.

On a everyday level, it's relatively harmless, and if nothing else fuels our curious nature. In the long term though it's the driving force that keeps a small army constantly checking NASA' s live feeds. Is that a bad thing? No, of course it isn't because ultimately, they could be the person that genuinely does discover a face in space.