People's minds do that. We see things that aren't there, particularly
when they make patterns. That's why Schiaparelli, and Lowell after him,
saw _canali_/canals on Mars. What was there were craters in something
resembling a row; and their minds drew lines between one crater rim and
As Sagan put it in _Cosmos_, "The canals were the work of an intelligent
mind. The only question was which end of the telescope the mind was
There's one hypothesis that doesn't need to be squared with the
laws of physics: UFO stories were fiction in the first place,
starting with that ur-event, the Arnold sighting of 1947.
The products entirely of the minds of writers.
This is what I've concluded upon studying the newspaper
databases that are available now, enabling a close look at the
larger context. Before the internet, access to the public sphere was
controlled by writers, so said hypothesis wouldn't see the light
of day. By the time the internet came along, the events in
question were too far in the past to interest its mostly young