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How do you like the short story "They're Made Out of Meat"

  1. Nov 20, 2015 #1
    Hello everybody,

    How do you like the short story "They're Made Out of Meat" by Terry Bisson?


    Apparently, this has been circulating online for a very long time already, but I only discovered it recently.

    Although the story is very short and simple, I have to admit that it somehow fascinates me. Apparently many others felt the same way when they read this story for the first time.

    Why do you think does this simple story appeal so much to the majority of its readers? Do you actually find it thought-provoking or do you rather think that people just enjoy the somewhat irreverent language?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 20, 2015 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Cool story, reminds me of the Twilight Zone episode where they meet aliens from another world who come to Earth with a book titled To Serve Mankind.

    They offer free trips to their home planet so everyone is lined up to leave when a linguist rushes in saying "Wait! Wait! Its a cookbook!".
  4. Nov 20, 2015 #3


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Nice. Reminds me a bit of how 'the palefaced' were presented in Lem's Cyberiad.

    I think it feeds into our need for recognition as being special-snowflake underdogs with odds stacked against us, whit a bit of a 'Whoa' factor.
    You know, what the 'goth' kids seem to be addicted to. ;)
  5. Nov 20, 2015 #4
    That's an interesting argument which I did not consider so far. I guess you are right: We somehow like this "against all odds" theme.

    But then again, I still think that the language also plays an important role. I am quite convinced that if we replaced the word "meat" by something more abstract or scientific (e.g. "protein-based blablabla"), then the story would not work as well anymore.

    However, apart from the underdog theme and the language, I think that the story also does a very good and enjoyable job in umasking (or mirroring) our chauvinistic tendencies. In particular, I liked the part where one of those entities appeared unable to believe that a meat brain can actually think. This clearly refers to all the philosophical or pseudo-philosophical discussions about whether or not non-biological artifical intelligence can ever acquire consciousness. For many humans, a "meatless" brain seems to be similarly difficult to imagine as a meat brain for the entity in this story.
  6. Nov 20, 2015 #5
    That's such a cute story! Thanks for sharing :biggrin:
  7. Nov 22, 2015 #6
    So, they know what "meat" is, but not animals? Where did they encounter meat without it being part of an animal?This makes no sense.
  8. Nov 22, 2015 #7
    They explicitly mention that they have met other creatures before that consist partly of meat or go through a meat stage. So apparently they know meat, but they never came across sentient creatures who consist of nothing else than meat.
  9. Nov 23, 2015 #8
    I would consider it to be one of the more realistic solutions to the fermi paradox. Meat rots, I would think that many species, as soon as they had the technology to do so, would start supplementing their biology with technology, with each generation being less and less meaty. We are significantly limited to our little planet and our spacecrafts while we are still meat.

    Yes, that's the guy from Cash Cab if anyone watched that.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2015
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