Life on Mars & the Erosion of Reality

Depending on the news source you rely on for your extraterrestrial updates, a robotic finger, a door-handle or even more disturbingly perhaps, a naturally eroded mineral formation may have been discovered on Mars by that roving vehicle cleverly named by those marketing gurus at NASA as the Mars Rover.

This is therefore either conclusive proof of extraterrestrial intelligence or perhaps simply evidence of Martian geological weathering. The jury is out as to which of these theories will prevail, unless you are of an even vaguely scientific background in which case you already know the answer and are happy to leave the pondering to those preferring their theories to be of a conspiratorial nature.

If this were indeed a manufactured artefact rather than headline, then paradigms would shift. Our reality would have to change from one where we are the only life-sustaining planet in the solar system to one where we may just face a future in which we compete for space not just with rival countries but rival planets. I suppose the downside of all this from the Martian perspective would be that if indeed this were really a robotic finger or door-handle as is proposed in some circles, we needn’t fear too much as intricate Rover-based measurements estimate it to be only half a centimetre long which would tend to suggest we’re up against Mini-Martians as  our potential exploratory adversaries.

Maybe we’d have to share resources, just like we do here on Earth. Sorry. Day-dreaming again.

Rather than delve any further into that area of pseudo science that Brian Cox delightfully terms Woo, perhaps we should stay on the side of reason and agree between ourselves that of all the theories, the most likely explanation at this point is natural erosion. I should say that speculation remains about some strange patterns also appearing in those Mars images that cast doubt on the erosion theory although perhaps what it is really casting is what is more colloquially termed a ‘shadow’. Never mind.

You see, this is the odd thing about what we like to term Reality. From a human perception perspective, it isn’t actually real. This can take a bit of getting your head around at first. What you or I perceive as Reality is actually just information being interpreted by your brain and we should remember that our senses are only tuned into to a very limited range of sensory information, (if in doubt watch any David Attenborough program). Our brain then amalgamates this information into possible scenarios that we recognise and use to be able to navigate our way through whatever environment we happen to find ourselves in.The human brain is wired to derive patterns from whatever stimuli are picked up around us and to use those patterns to predict potential futures and make automated, instinctive decisions about how to stay safe. Stay alive.

This leads to some odd things, if you’ll pardon the use of highly technical jargon – ‘things’.

The “Face on Mars” was one of the most strikin...

The “Face on Mars”  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We see patterns or shapes where they don’t exist. People see faces in pieces of toast, in rock’s, in clouds. Spiders become life threatening beasts. People always seem to be talking about you. You’re always last to get served in a pub. It isn’t really happening like that, the faces aren’t there, spiders are small and actually try to get out of the way, all these situations have just triggered a pattern recognition that made it look as though they were real. It’s those very pattern recognition programs that make a lump of eroded Martian mineral mimic Earth-bound mammalian life.

Surely it would be a bit odd that if there were Life on Mars, (good track; first album I ever bought), that it would have evolved a robot that used ‘fingers’ or that a door would need a ‘handle’. Surely it would be far more likely that Martian life would have evolved along entirely different lines unless Martian evolution was subject to similar extinction events at the same stages of evolution as Earth. Like that lump of rock 6 miles wide of  Armageddon fame which killed off the dinosaurs to a sufficiently large extent that some extremely small and insignificant warm-blooded proto-mammals were able to gain a foothold and take over the rather large niche recently vacated by those broiled and fried lizards.

The other interesting aspect to this automatic pattern hunting is that you tend to see what you expect to see. Our pattern hunting mechanisms see patterns in the patterns. If one of them has already turned up and been acted on successfully (i.e. you are still alive, no matter what form of social suicide you may have committed as a result), your brain tunes in to that particular scenario and becomes sensitised to hunting for evidence which could be linked to it. You see what you expect to see, a propensity much loved by misdirection manipulating magicians and tricksters. In addition to this, we are pre programmed to see co-incidence as cause and effect. As an evolutionary trait this certainly aids survival as it’s far better to successfully escape a danger that isn’t there than let the vice versas of life eat you for breakfast.

This can be the basis of many a serious argument and relationship misunderstanding. Two people can see the same evidence, the same set of behaviours, hear the same words, see the same sights and reach opposing conclusions. Your particular interpretation is dependant on the set of repetitive patterns you have become sensitised to, particularly during early childhood and these embedded patterns show up as the beliefs you hold about yourself and the world around you. A reality filter that your life experience has equipped you with. To you it is completely real and it can be virtually impossible to see any other point of view about the things (sorry, technical jargon again) that really matter. Love, relationships, cars, subtle changes in hair colour that anyone could miss I mean honestly how often do you have to say sorry of course it looks great I can’t think how I could have missed it.

Not only that, we even express our personalised perception of our different realities in differing ways. Some may ‘see things differently’, others would ‘feel the changes in the air’, still more would ‘hear another meaning’, perhaps get a ‘different sense’ of what’s going on. It’s a wonder that two people can converse at all.

I’d recommend reading the recently published book, Love Birds, by Trevor Silvester, the founder of Cognitive Hypnotherapy and my guide/mentor/trainer/friend, (see what I mean? Same person, same role, same relationship, different descriptions). It’s an easy access guide demonstrating how two perfectly normal people in a relationship may be expressing their heartfelt feelings for each other in a language that quite literally goes unnoticed by their partner. It’s fascinating, well worth investing in and explains a lot about why your other half seems to miss-understand you all the time and more to the point, shows what you can do to rectify it. After all, it couldn’t possibly be you that’s miscommunicating. Could it?

A lot of my therapeutic work revolves around helping clients identify what they truly believe about themselves and the reality they live in, together with what their preferences are for how they predominantly perceive it. As it turns out, not only are your fundamental beliefs about the world around you vitally important, your beliefs about yourself are even more important. Such beliefs are so ingrained, such a basic part of who you are, that they act as a reality filter for your reality filter. They run so deep that most of us have no idea that they exist at all. Why would we? Since our brains are wired up to seek proof that what we expect to happen duly happens, we hardly ever notice any evidence to the contrary.

Our beliefs are never really tested because we automatically delete anything that might do just that. After all, why should your unconscious adjust its perception of your reality? It’s kept you safe so far. Changing it would be dangerous. At least, that’s what your unconscious thinks. Right up until things, (there we go again), in your everyday life get so uncomfortable for you that your conscious mind steps in and looks for answers to why it all seems quite so tough. This may turn up as stress, anxiety, habits you can’t break, fears, pains, even deteriorating health.

It may just be time to uncover those beliefs and bring out into the open, into the fresh light of day where you can examine them and decide if you like them. Test the boundaries of what your unconscious considers safe. Re-establish a relationship with the world that is based on where you are now, rather than based on your past.

…and it might just be, when you look back at that scary Martian monster, it’s actually no more than a shadow from an oddly shaped pebble. What a relief.

it looks different from the back  @ Tony Burkinshaw 2013

it looks different from the back
@ Tony Burkinshaw 2013