“The X-Files” is a television show, a work of fiction, and yet, its supernatural-believing protagonist, Fox Mulder, is often shown chasing evidence to corroborate his notions about otherworldly phenomena. And while the truth may well be out there, the rigor shown by that character is often missing when it comes to real-world alien and UFO hunters (conspiracy theorists, essentially), who routinely put out bizarre theories, usually based on misinformation.

Two new examples of this have been making the rounds on the internet since the weekend. One claims there was an alien spacecraft in a lightning bolt somewhere on Earth, while the other goes a little farther out (literally) to describe a UFO on Mars.

The first claim seems to be more popular, given the number of views it garnered on the theorist’s YouTube channel, secureteam10. Called “They Dwell In The Lightning…” the 10-minute video was posted Saturday and points to a triangle-looking block within a lightning bolt, and calls it “yet another one of these objects, either struck by, caught within or siphoning energy from another one of these lightning bolts, snapped at just the right time as it was coming down over the Czech Republic.”

For starters, the photograph which is being discussed Tyler Glockner (the man behind the YouTube channel) was taken by some Instagram user and its location, clearly visible in the video itself, is not the Czech Republic at all, but instead, is a small seaside village in Croatia. The accompanying text in the original photograph also talks about chartering a boat, possibly referring to the weather. How Glockner found out it was lightning over the Czech Republic is best-known to him. But it does make it a bit more difficult to take him seriously.

Discovery with Lightning
The space shuttle Discovery rolls out to Launch Pad 39A with lightning in the area at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Aug. 4, 2009. Lightning always occurs in twisted shapes, which conspiracy theorists sometimes see alien spacecraft in. NASA

Of course, there is nothing unusual about lightning in all sorts of shapes, its branches making impossible angles and its bolt being anything but a straight line. By its nature, lightning travels a path of least resistance, which means it would travel between two points using whatever path offered it the quickest route (which isn’t always a straight line, especially given the fact that air has different components in varying amounts at different places). Sometimes, that creates strange-looking shapes.

The second claim is made on another YouTube channel, called ArtAlienTV - MARS ZOO, in a video posted Thursday. This video focuses on an image captured by NASA’s Curiosity rover, which is exploring the Gale Crater on Mars. The image was taken by Curiosity’s Front Hazcam: Left B on Jan. 20, and in the background, an object is visible above the Martian surface.

While that object is clearly visible, the analysis in the video leaves a fair amount to be desired. It says NASA is probably lying about not finding any evidence of life on Mars. It also rejects, based on personal perception, other opinions about it being a bird, and insists on it being a mechanical object. It also entirely fails to take into account that the Curiosity rover has been subject to harsh radiation (in the absence of a proper atmosphere on Mars) and some of its parts are in poor condition now.

Curiosity Rover Wheels
Holes and tears in Curiosity's wheels worsened significantly during 2013 as the rover was crossing terrain studded with sharp rocks on the route from near its 2012 landing site to the base of Mount Sharp on Mars. This image was taken on March 19, 2017. NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A fragment from one of Curiosity’s wheels could easily be the mystery object. But that wouldn’t fit well with conspiracy theories. Making claims based on incomplete information and casting baseless aspersions on other people’s motives, however, does.