You’re going to be disappointed when you read this, but there is not a Buddha statue on Mars, despite what UFO enthusiasts are claiming.
— ABC7 News (@abc7newsBayArea) October 19, 2015
OK, there could, theoretically, be a Buddha statue up there, because the only way to conclusively say that there isn’t one is to scour every inch of the Red Planet for a Buddha statue and, once that’s been done, declare once and for all that Mars is Buddha statue-free. But nevertheless, the latest picture from Mars to make the rounds on social media and UFO conspiracy blogs does not show a statue of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, Discovery is reporting. The latest “shocking discovery” on Mars started gaining traction last weekend, when a UFO conspiracy blog — UFO Sightings Daily–reader looked at a picture of a Martian rocky outcropping and decided that, by golly, a statue of The Buddha can clearly be seen. That is, if you zoom in, tilt your head just so, and squint really hard.
“This photo alone should be enough to convince the United Nations that intelligent life once existed on Mars, but NASA doesn’t want anyone to know the truth, because they will be asked to share the info and technology that they have found.”
The “fact” that there’s a Buddha statue on Mars is even more obvious when you look at the rock formation side-by-side with another image of what said Martian Buddha statue probably, maybe looks like up close.
The Buddha statue is just the latest Martian object to be considered “proof” of alien life on Mars — at least, if you’re convinced that NASA is hiding something, that is. From the “Face on Mars,” which UFO and alien-life believers have been seeing since it was snapped by the Viking orbiter in the 1970s, to the Martian bigfoot spotted in 2008, to the supposed alien spoon.
— Destination Space (@destin_space) September 27, 2015
In fact, there’s a simple, scientific explanation for why people are seeing things on Mars — and elsewhere — that aren’t really there: it’s called “pareidolia” — that is, the tendency of the human brain to assign meaning to images (and sounds) when there is none.
Pareodilia is what causes people to see the face of Jesus Christ in a piece of toast, or the Virgin Mary in the random stains under a highway overpass. It’s also what causes humans to supposedly hear ghostly voices in so-called EVP (“electronic voice phenomena”) recordings.
Also at work here is the power of suggestion: that is, if someone showed you a picture and told you that it’s a Buddha statue in a group of Martian rocks, your brain is going to try really hard to see that Buddha statue. It’s the same reason people have been hearing supposedly “Satanic” messages in certain songs when played backwards: if someone told you that you were going to hear the words “Here’s to my sweet Satan” when you play Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” backwards, then your brain will expect it and you’ll hear it plain as day.
Needless to say, the odds of intelligent life existing on Mars, or ever having existed on Mars, are slim to nil. Tantalizing evidence that Mars might have once been hospitable to primitive alien life (such as microbes) continues to mount up every year, and a future Mars mission may yet even find a living microbe up there.
Or of course, NASA could be lying through their collective teeth and there really once was an intelligent alien race up there — one that left behind carved faces, giant spoons, and even a Buddha statue.