Today’s blog is about perception. I have touched on this subject once or twice before since how you process information is a useful survival and self-defence skill. What you perceive can often be influenced by what you want to see, expect to see or are expected to see.
Back in the mid 1990s a video claiming to be the autopsy of an alien was broadcast. Last year I came across an article written at that time by a writer who had attended a press screening of the video. Although he was writing for a science fiction publication the writer was sceptical and suggested that a telephone visible in the film was too modern for the date claimed for the film. This latter statement made me find a copy of the film and sit down to watch it.
One of the claims I had heard made for this film was that the men performing the autopsy seemed very efficient, professional and were evidently doctors, coroners or scientists. Watching the film my impression was quite the opposite!
Anyone with even a minimal level of medical training would use a Y-incision to open the thorax of a humanoid. Instead, in the video a clumsy cross is cut in the torso and organs fished out. No attempt is made to film the inside of the torso and the relative positions of the organs before they are removed. One of the “doctors” attempts to open the skull and to access this area he peels the scalp upwards and flops it over the alien’s face. The rather awkward action shows that the “doctor” has never before performed this action, nor has he ever given any thought whatever as to what would be the best way to accomplish this. Not only is it obvious to me the two “doctors” have no knowledge of medicine, it seems very unlikely they are hunters or butchers or any other profession used to handling animal carcasses.
The makers of the alien autopsy video have now admitted that it was faked. While some people choose to believe they have been made to lie about falsifying it, the actions of the “doctors” in the video speak pretty clearly. And yet, many people claimed the conduct of the “doctors” in the video was evidence of its authenticity!
Below is another famous mystery, the footprint of a yeti found by an Everest expedition. Spend a couple of minutes studying this photo and see if you can work out what is “wrong” about it.
If you look carefully you can see the footprint is curved on its left side, suggesting that if this is a primate foot it is from the right foot. The largest toe impression, however, is on the right of the foot print. Either yetis have a very odd way of distributing their weight when walking or they have their big toes or insteps on the outside of their feet!
Is there an animal in Tibet that has a large toe on the outside of its foot. Yes, bears have this feature. Another interesting thing about bear tracks is at certain walking speeds the front and rear pawprints often overlap, creating what appears to look a bit like an elongated human or primate footprint! If you look across the centre of this footprint there appears to be what might be a second set of toe impressions, supporting the idea that this might be a pawprint placed close to another.
The perception of these things is something to reflect on. Humans are most interested in humans so they perceive a vaguely human-shaped track as being from a hommid, ignoring large discrepancies as the big toe being on the wrong side!