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“I Want to Believe” is a catchphrase associated with images depicting paranormal objects or phenomena, especially the ones alleged to have extraterrestrial origins such as pictures of UFO or aliens.
The slogan was originally produced for a scene prop on the production set of The X-Files, an American cult sci-fi TV series created by screenwriter Chris Carter. The series ran for nine seasons from September 1993 to May 2002. In the series, the slogan can be seen on a poster hanging in the office wall of FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder (played by David Duchovny).
With the international success of the X-Files series, both the slogan and the poster came to represent believers of UFO and extraterrestrial life. While the production team has not officially commented on the origins of the poster, a nonprofit research group known as Free Community of Interests for the Border and Spiritual Sciences and Ufological Studies (FIGU) Community have claimed that the picture is based on an actual UFO taken by photographer and self-claimed UFO contactee Billy Eduard Albert Meier.
The poster became a kind of a Holy Grail for The X-Files fan communities, where investigative research of the original poster and its derivatives continued even after the finale episode of the last season in 2002. The image spread through various fan communities of The X Files as well as hobby groups investigating photographic evidences of paranormal and extraterrestrial activities. In 2005, the parodies of the poster reached the art-sharing community YTMND on August 25th, 2005 with the launch of “Milton Files” by user RTF, set to the show’s original theme song “The X-Files” composed by Mark Snow. Other YTMND sites followed soon afterwards:
The first version of the poster, resembling a strange mix of a photograph and a painting, became the target of parodies. From that point, the catchphrase “I want to believe” became used for a variety of mythical subjects and issues that remain debatable, such as the existence of Santa Claus. By 2006, an image template from the poster was used as a cover for Worrywood’s 1st Mini Album and in the summer of 2008, an image macro generator for “I Want to Believe” poster parodies was launched.
Search queries for the phrase “I want to believe” peaked in July 2008, shortly after the release of the film adaptation The X-Files: I Want to Believe.
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