Mars seems to bring out the kooks. I was pointed to the bizarre Xenotech “research” site, which consists entirely of the delusional fantasies of Sir Charles W. Shults III, Scientist (yes, that’s what he calls himself). His research program? He gleans photographs from Mars probes for random shapes that look biological to him. Here, for instance, is the “clearest and most perfect trilobite” he has found in these pictures.
It’s a good thing he marked up that one photo with his imaginary lines—I’ve seen a lot of trilobites, and I wouldn’t have seen one in his rock if he hadn’t pulled out the crayon.
There’s more! He has a whole gallery of apophenia — it’s an amazing example of a hyperactive pattern detector.
Aquarius: Beware the nitrate levels in your tank, and do a filter change. Your guppies are pregnant. The air line to the little plastic treasure chest is at risk for getting clogged. Don’t overfee…what? It’s what? Aquarius, not aquarist?
Loving the horoscopes, PZ. Hilarious.
I’m a trilobite fan and I cracked up when I saw this guys page.
Bart Mitchell says
What a loon.
The horoscopes are great PZ, but I would have used
Moving all those bottles can be tough work. Remember, lift with your legs, not your back. And use a dolly where you can. Don’t pay any attention to derision the soft drink bearers, as you, the water bearer fill vending machines with the liquid of life.
Trilobite? Come on, that’s an old-school Colonial Viper.
Fire Ant says
Wait, wait…..I think I see Snoopy and Charlie Brown in the other rock (oh wait, wrong Charles Schulz)….
Just spotted at the bottom of the front page:
“All my research is funded by a generous grant from Dr. Nelson Ying, Baron of Balquhain.”
The fool! It’s clearly a Martian hand with the middle finger extended.
He doesn’t even include the Mars “rotini” pasta observed by Opportunity.
Empirical evidence of the pasta-loving FSM!
Dennis N says
Oh, that’s where I left my trilobite.
PZ Myers says
If you want more horoscopes, someone’s going to have to cough up my £1,000,000 annual salary.
I don’t know about any other Aquarians out there, but I predict that I will be carrying beer, not water, later today.
Ted D says
Perhaps you should apply for funding to:
“Dr. Nelson Ying, Baron of Balquhain.” (#6)
Green tea for this one, who must work tonight. :::heavy sigh:::
And y’all probably thought the sig name was about fish tanks. ;)
Or we could cough up our own (which would be more fun, anyway) and bribe you a somewhat lesser amount to post them for us. I have… pocket change, once I pick the lint out of it… but we’ll manage, right?
Dennis N says
This Ying guy doesn’t seem crazy on the face of it, but then again this Florida, which is batting about .120 right now, and should be yanked from the line-up soon. Puerto Rico can pinch-hit to round out the 50.
“Charlie Flats” looks EXACTLY like Charlie Smith who lived next door to my aunt’s brother-in-law! Coincidence? Or Intelligent Design? I’m sure my theory will be expelled and surpressed.
Phil ought to have a field day with this guy’s site.
PZ says: “If you want more horoscopes, someone’s going to have to cough up my £1,000,000 annual salary.”
I could manage it in Monopoly money, maybe…But YAY for the Aquarius horoscope. I can haz beer? I’ll settle for a hard lemonade after work.
Wow! I’m an Aquarius and my aquariums are both overdue for a water change. I imagine the nitrate levels are through the roof; good thing my fish are tough. No guppies though.
Astrology works. *snerk* All hail PZ and his powers of prognostication.
How big are all these “fossils”? I doubt that NASA’s current level technology could pick up this level of detail on rocks that would be roughly the size of the Earth forms of these cratures. So are these all giant “trilobites”?
Sorry, I looked more closely at the site and saw the sized. Nevermind.
The moniker ‘Sir Charles Shults III’ seems very strange. Charles Shults III sounds very American, and they don’t get knighthoods except very rarely honorary ones – and that doesn’t entitle them to be called ‘sir’ anything.
I wonder where he got his knighthood, and for what (services to crankpottery)? Sounds bogus to me.
No more?! But you haven’t even covered the remaining zodiac signs which other astrologers skip over in ignorance or embarrassment (because they mess up the alleged 12 equalish divisions). Eg Ophiuchus – it being highly appropriate that there should be a snake connection to interfere with the imaginary perfection.
That site is pretty tame compared to http://www.wiolawapress.com.
Apparently it’s possible to ferret out the snakemen living among us using Photoshop’s “Solarize” filter.
Go back to drawing Peanuts!
“That site is pretty tame compared to http://www.wiolawapress.com”
WTF? The most disturbing aspect is the numerous forum members who apparently agree.
Try Googling Dr. Nelson Ying, Baron of Balquhain.
This is just one of the sites.
Apparently he can award ‘knighthoods’ to people he pays, which is where ‘Sir Charles Shults III’ comes from!
Dave Wolfenden says
Pierce R. Butler says
Trilobites on Mars? So what?
I’m a lot more concerned about the evidence that Blackwater already has a facility there…
Presumably from the same agensy as His Lordship the Viscount St. Austell-in-the-Moor Biggleswade-Brixham.
And isn’t apophenia about seing connections where none be, e.g. conspiracy theories? This is more like Plait’s pareidolia, right?
I think he screwed up – the Sol 507 Sea Biscuit classification looks exactly like a Trilobite to me …
The image is nevertheless intriguing. Do we have any geologists lurking that could explain how that sort of formation could arise? I for one am very intrigued (though experience tells me that the answer is probably going to have something to do with partial differential equations. Ripples always have something to do with PDEs).
Baron Ying also sponsors his own science prize – also some good pictures of the (very smiley) man himself.
Phil Plait, aka The Bad Astronomer says
Ah yes, Charles Shults. We’ve been dealing with him for years over at the Bad Astronomy discussion board. As you might expect, he and his followers are impenetrable to logic and evidence.
Well, maybe someone should try to instigate a little battle between this guy and the YECs. After all, flood geology is not going to explain away fossils on Mars, now is it?
On the other hand, the Expelled folks might have to make nice with Richard Dawkins, because this would seem to lend credence to the “alien intelligent designer” hypothesis. :)
While the “trilobites”, sea urchins and crinoids are a joke, some of the shells looked convincing enough for me to click on them. I give him credit for being honest enough to link to the original images, such as this one:
After seeing that, its obvious that those rocks could look like anything. I just want a geologist to explain the rock formations to me. Is that a wind erosion process?
Has sir Charles found any evidence of the Hallettestoneion Sea Zoria Dragon?
Someone give Sir Charles a copy of Carl Sagan’s “The Demon Haunted World”, stat!
Looks awully similar to the old Richard Hoagland / enterprise mission site that used to get Phil Plait’s blood boiling.
Rev. BigDumbChimp says
Wile E Coyote, Super Genius
Martian sea biscuits, mmmmmm……..
Are those anything like Cheddar Bay biscuits at Red Lobster?
eric taylor says
i see jimmi hendrix’s guitar in that shape.
You must have seen the photo from Mars of a small outcrop on the surface that many wackos say it is Bigfoot! Actually it is Ben Stein getting up after being pummelled by the reviews of Expunged!
Eamon Knight says
Looks like someone has a padded cell with an Internet connection, a copy of Levi-Setti’s Atlas of the Trilobites — and absolutely nothing else to do, and no one to talk to.
Master Mahan says
Aha! I found his biography page. Apparently he was knighted by a fossilized Queen Dejah Thoris of Barsoom.
I ran across his (at least I think it is him…) site years ago after hearing him yammer on Coast to Coast AM back when I listened to that crap. The first thing I noticed was that all the “fossils” he saw were of earth creatures. The second was that he had the gaul to start assigning them all scientific names on the spot.
Looking at this stuff reminds me of this site my brother is obsessing over that deals with pictures of landed UFOs spotted by…Google Earth! Why is it that seeing shell shapes in rocks or the devil’s face in world trade center smoke is significant, but seeing a duck in a cloud is not?
Apparently knighted by a chinese scots laird.
But I did find this sentence on one of the interminable pages of rock snaps:
“In my experience, if a rock has an anus, it is either a statue or a fossil.”
That is not bad, not bad at all.
John Vreeland says
This guy is like Ed “man as dumb as coal” Conrad.
I’m absolutely lovin’ the horrorscopes!
Somnolent Aphid says
Proof that gd can put fossils wherever she wants to put em. Bet you they’re not more than 6,000 years old!
Come now, John. Ed Conrad is many things, but as smart as a good piece of coal he is not.
(Perhaps he’s as smart as a Martian trilobite.)
If you smoke enough ganja, you can make anything look like a triolobite. I am unimpressed. Now…had he found Hoffa’s grave or Elvis or Steve Irwin’s stingray…
Bride of Shrek says
I stare at that rock and all I see is a big penis. Thats happening to me a lot lately.
Martin Hutton says
Bride of Shrek (#54):
Hmmm…Mr. Shrek falling down on his duties?
The Pale Scot says
So Sgt. Shults had a son, that’s nice.
Good to know he has kept up the family moto;
I KNOW NOTHING!….NOTHINGGGGgggggg…………..
He is surprisingly interviewed on the Space Show at
Normally a pretty sane place.
Martin Hutton (#55)
Maybe Mr Shrek keeps getting in the way of the computer?
It has been telepathically wired to the swiss account in the name of the Trophy Wife™. In qatoloos.
Chris Rowan (Highly Allochthonous here on SciBlogs) has previously observed that Trilobites Didn’t Go Extinct….
I love you for using the word “aquarist”. It validates my life in some mysterious way.
Why would life on Mars have to look like life on Earth?
And why would it be so damned small? Dark matter, perhaps. 3 mm Urchins?