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First Contact

  1. May 27, 2005 #1
    Ignoring the if, when, and how of contact with an alien race, what would the social stigmata be of this event? Suppose that we receive radio signals from Race B (roughly equivalent in technological development) that originate several light years away in 2010. How would our society be forced to change and adapt in light of this discovery? Would we reply? What if they were substantially more or less advanced than us?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 27, 2005 #2
    It'd be a religous stigmata.

    Consider how the "saddle up a dinosaur" crew would react if said "persons from another world" did NOT come in the form of people with two arms, two legs, and a head, there by re-enforcing the idea that we are all "created in God's image", i.e. an elderly white dude in flowing robes.
    Ah progress. Ya gotta love it.
  4. May 27, 2005 #3


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    Why would these hypothetical creatures differ that much from us? If bipedal critters work here, why would they not work as well in the far reaches? I'm looking at this [applying the principle of mediocrity] from an evolutionary result. Given the same circumstances, would it look that much different than earth?
  5. May 27, 2005 #4
    Frankly speaking, we all take alien species to look different from ours.There has been no solid proof for the fact that they look more cheeky than our species.They might look a lot like ours with just minor changes in skull structure depending on the kind of conditions they live in.

    But as you have mentioned "ignoring the when and how of the signal" , i think the "when and hows" are currently more important than imagining a wierd looking creature sending us a signal from a far off star.
  6. May 27, 2005 #5
    Feh! To little gray (or green) "men".

    Frankly I just can't buy into the idea that extraterrestrial intelligence has much of a chance at ALL of looking even vaguely "human".
    When you consider the stunning variety of shape and form life takes on our world, a world likely to wind up being one of millions to evolve intelligent life, then imo, applying the principle of mediocrity would argue strongly AGAINST the idea that E.T.'s are going to be found to resemble us at all.

    The fact that "bipedal critters work here", imo, is meaningless sophistry. "Bipedal critters" are by absolutely NO means the only critters to have "worked" on our world. In fact if you take into account all of the varying forms life has taken on our world that have lasted, we and our bipedal distant cousins, form a very distinct minority of that particular group, terapods are an even smaller sub-set of that group, and primates account for SUCH a small part of the overall picture of "life on Earth" as to render the idea of intelligent life from another world looking like us to border on the ridiculous imo.
    TOO many coincidences have to add up just right for that to happen.
    The gravity of the planet has to be high enough to offer vertebrates a survival advantage.
    It has to be high enough to allow for a bipedal gate to be an efficient mode of locomotion.
    But low enough to allow whatever passes for "bones" on that world to support the weight of the life-forms that evolve them.
    Suppose an intelligent life-form were to evolve on a world with one sixth Earth's gravity?
    In that case a multi-armed uniped might wind up being a more efficient choice of form. Two legs didn't appear to me to be much of an advantage to our species the very first time we "walked", or more accurately hopped around in an ungainly and uniquely silly looking fashion, on our own moon.
    Suppose a world like that were dominated by low hanging trees (which for all we know may not even qualify as anything that could be considered vegetation I should add), what possible survival advantage would two legs, two arms, and a head offer?
    It seems to me that something vaguely similar to an air breathing version of an octopus might be able to move through such an environment like a puff of wind blown smoke, while it would be the relatively ungainly, and all too easy to catch bipeds that quickly go the way of the Do Do long before evolving intelligence.
    And that's just considering how relatively tiny differences in gravity might change things. Or not.

    If you look at the evolution of life on THIS world, as being like a game of pool, with lots of games of pool being played on lots of different worlds, all following the same basic "rules", then the fact that "bipeds" wound up developing intelligence on our world may well have no more meaning at all than the fact that on OUR world, in our PARTICULAR game of pool, the 2 ball was sunk first, the 9 ball second, the 11 ball next, and the 5 ball after that, etc., leading to bipeds being the ones that developed intelligence. But what are the chances of exactly the same sequence of events being duplicated exactly in any of the other games being played?
    Not all that good imo.
    The way I see it, each game on each world, is MUCH more likely to lead to VERY different outcomes when it comes to the specifics of how many fingers, how many eyes, radial symmetry or axial, or even whether or not it's possible for them to be plagued by pimples during adolescence (assuming that something even vaguely similar to "adolescence" occurs in THEIR life cycle, in THEIR particular game).

    To become tool makers all you need is a big enough, and complex enough brain, and the means of articulating the tools developed.
    "Hands" are ONE very nice and elegant solution, but they're not the ONLY solution.
    The classic "Bug eyed aliens with tentacles" we commonly associate with the "monsters" of pulp Sci-Fi running around accosting scantily clad female hominids, could develop practical tools every bit as well as those of us with a single pair of "hands" don't you think?
    The tools would be different, cumbersome for US to use perhaps, but what would lead anyone to think that four fingers and an opposable thumb is the ONLY way for someone to develop the ability to "skin a cat"?


    In fact, one of the things that's always made me VERY suspicious about UFO stories of people being kidnapped by "little gray men" is the idea that the nefarious villains of nearly all of those stories look so "human".
    Fairies look like humans with wings added.
    Titans and Olympians were almost always either humanoid in appearance, or half human, half animal.
    So were many of the Egyptian gods.
    Valkyries, lepricons, elves, Orcs, and vampires, Vulcans and even "E.T. the extraterrestrial", all look to me at least as suspiciously close genetic relatives of our own species.

    I think that it's just an aspect of human nature to see a reflection of ourselves in our own dreams and imaginings of "what might be". It's comforting in it's familiarity, but imo has no basis in what could be regarded as scientific thought.
    It's exceptionally tempting to manufacture reasons and reasoning that predicts that intelligent life on another world will be much like our own, with little more than "minor changes in skull structure depending on the kind of conditions they live in".

    I think that if and when "first contact" occurs we're likely to be STUNNED by how different even the nearest of our neighbors turn out to be, and that it's likely to be one hell of an object lesson in just how limited our imaginations are in comparison to what nature is able to come up with.
    Even “Bug eyed aliens with tentacles” are likely to wind up seeming comparatively familiar compared to what we run into if and when we meet “people” from another world.
  7. May 27, 2005 #6
    legendary argument

    This is a classic mistake people make ; connecting alien contact and god.

    The problem is that thoes aliens may be far superior yet they may be more thiest than humans, ie. they may give us proof of god if she exists.
  8. May 27, 2005 #7
    I personally agree with MonsterFromTheId on the whole resemblance issue. It is nigh on impossible that life should arise to even be remotely close to us in structure without a virtually identical set of conditions. I am consistently stunned by the number of people who seem to believe evolution has some kind of "goal" in mind. If there is no need for a human-like anatomy, one will not exist. Given this, however, I was more interested in the social aspects. Would we contact them again? If they were at our level of technological development, would we cooperate on scientific development, or would our differences be too fundamental? This would obviously throw a major roadblock into the path of Christian zealots. How would they react? I know much of this depends on the form of body and mind of the aliens, but I believe there would be common issues that would arise no matter their body shape.
  9. May 27, 2005 #8
    On a similar religious note Anonymous, how would a theistic alien society prove the existence of some impartial "God"? Isn't it just as likely that they too went through the primitive phase and sought to explain their existence with a creator archetype? What if they too were divided over this possibility, some atheistic and some theistic? Simply contacting an alien society that professes belief in a creator proves nothing.
  10. May 28, 2005 #9
    I agree with U.

    All I said was that if god Exists and if thoes aliens are thousands of years ahead of us then they should be in a better position to prove existence of god.

    For example, there may be something that can be done to provoke gods anger or something like that.
  11. May 28, 2005 #10
    i have thought the same thing as Id, but i heard that they also expected them to be spider like

    and on a social note, we probably wouldn't find out, a government is likely to hide it away, whether they respond or not, that's another matter.

    in stagate sg1 only the government knows about it, not even the un knew its, the only other country with any understanding is russia, and that's only because the stargate fell on them...
  12. May 28, 2005 #11
    The question is slightly strange as it says that there is another race which comes to earth. This has the hidden suggestion that they are humans. Therefore they could not have 5 legs or whatever.
  13. May 29, 2005 #12
    I didn't suggest or mean that they came to Earth. The whole point of this discussion is that we cannot physically meet them. Neither of us have the technology to cross the interstellar gap, so what do we do? What if they have knowledge of other alien species? Would we form some kind of trading network, sharing information between the stars?
  14. May 30, 2005 #13
    What if GOD had lied in the past , so the human find it comfortable to pray her.
  15. May 30, 2005 #14
    Provided the relevant government even goes public with the info, here on Earth you are going to have an even more heated debate than the existence of God. There will be one side thrilled that we have made contact and rushing to build the welcome fruit basket. You will have legions of skeptics, deadset on the idea that this revelation is a coincidence and not indicitave of contact made. No matter how genuine and unequivocal the message and the proof, you will have many people claiming it to be an elaborate hoax. You will have scientists and astronomers scratching their heads trying to make sense of all this.

    Since we aren't "meeting" the beings, chances are SETI found them. Since SETI doesn't have the widest search parameters, we were VERY LUCKY to have picked up their signal. Their transmission happened to come from the direction we were listening to at the time and within the radio frequency range we were scanning. Not only did they develop intelligence, but their intelligence led to the use of the same technology as we use, either to specifically send a message or inadvertantly, like alien TV. Now to return a message, which SETI would presumably do, the aliens MUST be listening in the correct direction and at the same frequency range, and know when they will get the message. There is no way whatsoever to "coordinate" the dialogue between species; just both species sitting there guessing and hoping they get it right. Without actually "meeting" the aliens in "person", we are relying on signals that take years to travel. By the time they hear back (if they do) we will all be dead/senile. Perhaps our grandchildren could process their return correspondence, but this means that besides a new topic to argue about at your next family reunion, there won't be a significant impact on our modern society.
  16. May 30, 2005 #15
    good awnser
  17. Jun 1, 2005 #16
    Thanks for that compliment from you to me.
  18. Jun 1, 2005 #17
    I think that it would have a large effect. A lot of energy right now is tied up in imagining whether other life exists and what form it would take. I do, however, think that communication would be quite the problem, as life that arises under different conditions from us is unlikely to use the same methods of speech as we do. They might not even verbalize, communicating through body language, scent, or color changes (much as squid do). Religious fundamentalists would likely call for the extermination of such a race, calling them a sin against God based on their superior attitude. If we could not make physical contact, information could still be shared via radio transmission, possibly distributing knowledge and technology. If the government didn't cover it up, I would say consequences would be widespread.
  19. Jun 2, 2005 #18
    I'm not sure what you mean "widespread" in terms of consequences.. Will there be a social or economic impact?
  20. Jun 2, 2005 #19


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    Actually, current popular thinking is that, even if the same circumstances were repeated HERE ON EARTH, we would get life completely unlike what we have. It was a crap shoot.

    Stephen J. Gould's examination of the Cambrian explosion shows a huge, huge divergence of lifeforms 500 million years ago, freakish things that are as alien as anything you can imagine from space (see below). Five-fold symmetry, seven-fold symmetry, etc. The entire line of bilateral symmetry that exists today (trhat counts everything from humans to insects and more) is descended from a small 10 percent of all species alive in the Cambrian. Any one of them could have taken the lead, it was just dumb luck that bilateral symmetry pulled ahead.

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2005
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