How would an alien describe the human race?

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Matt E, Feb 24, 2019.

  1. XRD_author

    XRD_author Banned Supporter

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    Humans are the ultimate rationalizers: once they decide what they want to do, they can always come up with a reason it was/is desirable or necessary for them to do it. Unique in the galaxy, humans have an entire profession dedicated to this rationalization, called "lawyers."

    The word "lawyer" has given many alien etymologists fits, because while at first blush it would seem to indicate people who work to administer the law, it actually refers to people whose primary function is twisting and perverting the law for a buck.

    "What's that blue sphere?" asked the first alien.
    "Stay away from there," said the second alien, "That's Earth, the Planet of Lawyers."
    "Lawyers?!" The first alien shuddered. "Why haven't we quarantined it?"
    "We're trying to, but our society will probably collapse before the law suits they filed to prevent that conclude."
     
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  2. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Senior Member

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    i'm writing something where an alien meets humans for the first time. Humans colonized her planet, but her people stay away from them, so she's never seen them before. her idea of humans is solely on a basis of morality. her people hold morals to a high standard. humans lack morality. she believes they are untrustworthy, too prideful, violent, takers, angry, etc. this was the myth passed down by the first of her kind that came in contact with humans.

    When she meets humans, she then describes them individually: this one talks different from the other. this one is pink, this one is black, this one is yellow. this one has orange hair, or green eyes. her own people are pretty homogenous and humans are not. they all look and act differently and this fascinates her.

    humans, on the other hand, focus on everything that makes her "inhuman" - which is her looks - but other than that, her people are the alien species most closely related to humans.
     
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  3. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I remember one TV show (probably Star Trek: TNG) where aliens described humans as "ugly bags of mostly water." I think they nailed it.
     
  4. The Piper

    The Piper Senior Member

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    As a self-proclaimed ugly bag of mostly water I'd recommend checking out the instagram page nathanwpylestrangeplanet here: https://www.instagram.com/nathanwpylestrangeplanet/

    Good for a laugh, even if it's not particularly helpful.
     
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  5. Some Guy

    Some Guy Slacrastinator Supporter

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    The Crystalline Entity - TNG
     
  6. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Banned

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    Well, kind of the inverse, but one thing is that I figured that if we ever met aliens their name for their race would seem odd or illogical to us, but to them it makes perfect sense, so it may be kind of odd combinations of terms we have no idea how to properly interpret. Like, we call ourselves Man. This means nothing to aliens. They have men and women probably, but the idea that a race would specifically denote itself, regardless of gender, by the term used to describe it's male sex is odd to them at best and a race who literally call themselves "The Men" sounds weird, but it's the closest approximation they have in their language. The fact we put importance on this from a cultural and religious standpoint is similarly kind of lost on them since our beliefs are alien to them. Sitting down and explaining the story of Adam and Eve, Eden and Genesis and such to them would take a while.

    Likewise, specifically in one thing I'm working on, there is a race who pop up--one of the earliest we ever met--called the "Chemical-Breathers". That's not the literal name, but it's the only English translation we have, and it denotes mainly their description of their preferred atmospheric conditions (they breathe what we would call natural gas) and from their point of view there are religious connotations as well, as they place huge importance on the "breath of life" and view the air itself, such as it is, on their homeworld as a gift from their monotheistic deity. So they're "Chemical-Breathers", just like we're Men, and it makes as much sense to us as we do to them. Or like another race called the Legion. They're a highly tribal, highly militaristic species with a level of byzantine politicking that would make Game of Thrones look like Equestria so the closest approximation in English we have to their name for themselves, stripping all religious and cultural inferences from it, is "The Legion".

    One thing I also kinda put in was that a LOT of alien races ("xenomorphs") view humans not in a negative way, but kind of in a unsettling and off-putting way. Mankind, specifically the Empire of Man, is like...very militaristic. And practices a kind of extremist religious belief that can only be described as a theocracy in the future, with the actual, hereditary ruling monarchs of Mankind calling themselves gods-incarnate or "God-Emperors". And while some races, like the Legion who are basically big, brutish, psychically powerful ursine things that look like Polar Bears and have their own theocracy and like to get drunk and fight wars, they view the Empire as their BFFs and have a long-standing alliance...but there are other races who see this incredibly fanatical, violent, militaristic kingship of expansionist carnivores from some forest planet called "Earth" as being...kinda sorta scary. It's like if you lived next door to a Chuck Norris meme. And the times we see Man through the eyes of aliens, like the Chemical-Breathers, their reaction to some of Man's antics (like public beheadings for heretics, or brothels with gene-engineered slave girls, or the near-constant fanatical worship of the Holy See of Earth, or the tendency to start wars at the drop of a hat and use WMDs like it's a fading trend we want to get in on before it's gone, etc) it elicits a "what the fuck" expression from said Chemical-Breathers.

    As for how they'd describe us physically? Well that's kind of dependent on what they are precisely. Like if they're carbon-based lifeforms, they probably aren't hugely different than most organic life on Earth, since they evolved in something resembling an environment we can imagine. If they're like energy beings or made of self-aware water or something they'd find the whole idea of big sacks of living meat who trot around on legs and hump each other. But seeing as, despite all the variances of biology on Earth, generally thinking most advanced life like apes (i.e, humans) and felines, canines, etc has similar qualities--carbon based, oxygen breathing, two eyes, arms and legs, two sexes, mammalian. So they probably wouldn't be hugely divergent from this, assuming the world they evolved on was similar to our own in any way. By that I mean I doubt that say snails would ever develop a post-scarcity socialist utopia.
     
  7. Some Guy

    Some Guy Slacrastinator Supporter

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    "Tastes like chicken" :D
     
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  8. Fallow

    Fallow Banned

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    A race of individuals maniacally fascinated with what other individuals think of them.
     
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  9. paperbackwriter

    paperbackwriter Contributor Contributor

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    wh
    what did you say about me behind my back?
     
  10. Zombie Among Us

    Zombie Among Us Member

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    This YouTube video comes to mind.
     
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  11. Thorn Cylenchar

    Thorn Cylenchar New Member

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    One of my favorite short stories is 'The Demon Breed' by James H. Schmitz. The last chapter is basically a summary of a collective view of humanity from an alien empires perspective. Definitely worth a read, below is my favorite section:

    "To say that the human is thus and so is almost to lie automatically. The species, it's practices and philosophies remain unpredictable. Individuals vary, and the species varies with circumstance. This instability seems a main source of it's strength. We cannot judge it by what it is today or was yesterday. We do not know what it will be tomorrow."
     
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  12. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    This thread made me think of this guy: https://twitter.com/nathanwpyle?lang=en He makes comics like this:

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Stormsong07

    Stormsong07 Living in my own little world Contributor

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    Makes me think of the poem "Southbound on the Freeway" by May Swenson.

    A tourist came in from Orbitville,
    parked in the air, and said:

    The creatures of this star
    are made of metal and glass.

    Through the transparent parts
    you can see their guts.

    Their feet are round and roll
    on diagrams of long

    measuring tapes, dark
    with white lines.

    They have four eyes.
    The two in back are red.

    Sometimes you can see a five-eyed
    one, with a red eye turning

    on the top of his head.
    He must be special--

    the others respect him
    and go slow

    when he passes, winding
    among them from behind.

    They all hiss as they glide,
    like inches, down the marked

    tapes. Those soft shapes,
    shadowy inside

    the hard bodies--are they
    their guts or their brains?
     
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  14. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Soft outside, but with a crunchy middle.
     
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  15. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Compliant, easily dominated by peer pressure:

    Asch Conformity Experiment – subjects were asked a question about two pictures with an obvious answer, but only after hearing actors, hired as fake subjects, giving the same wrong answer, and the subjects generally gave the same answer

    Stanford Prison Experiment – subjects were asked to play-act as guards and prisoners, and those play-acting as guards became so abusive that the study had to be cut short

    Milgram Obedience Study – subjects were pressured into inflicting what they believed were increasingly harmful and potentially lethal electric shocks​
     
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  16. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    :superidea:
    Don't Talk to Strangers.jpg
     
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  17. BBQPorkbelly

    BBQPorkbelly Member

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    If I were an alien that belongs to a culture that does not tell stories, then yes, I would think of humans as a race that constantly tells stories, both to themselves and to others.
    If I were an alien that belongs to a culture that does not colonize other worlds and exploit their resources, then yes, I would think of humans as a race that is always looking to colonize other worlds and exploit their resources.
    If I were an alien that belongs to a culture that is not descended from smelly primates, then yes, I would think of humans as a race that is descended from smelly primates.
    Planet of hats?
     
  18. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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  19. Virgo76

    Virgo76 Member

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    A comedian pointed out as we follow our dogs everywhere and tidy up after them every time they poop, to an observing alien it would appear the dogs were our rulers.

    Recommend The Humans by Matt Haig on this alien theme.
     
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  20. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Senior Member

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    Semi-intelligent apes with low level of survival instinct.
     
  21. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Senior Member

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    It depends on what they've seen of us and what the alien wants to see.
    The human race possesses good qualities and living things are very resilient.
     
  22. DarkPen14

    DarkPen14 Member

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    It seems to me that aliens might perceive us to be of a semi-hive minded race. Think about it:

    We form governments, the leader of the hive
    Everyone below the government is doing what they can to keep the hive from falling apart
    Everyone below the government is in some way beholden to the government.
    Hives are often attacked by rival hives, just as human governments war and experience terrorism.
     

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