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starship-design: alien aesthetics

I was reading some of the old posts about hypothetical human-alien
relations, especially he ones relating to Pellegrino's "Killing Star"
and it occured to me that one of the major factors in our reaction to
contact would be the aliens' physical appearence, were that information
avaliable.  If we assume that we meet through means other than our
radiotelescopes (eg exploratory missions stumbling across each other or
an inhabited planet) and neither side is overtly aggressive, then human
attitudes will be greatly shaped by how "cute" or "hideous" the aliens
appear should we decide to exchange video images.  An alien whose
appearence is unnerving to us (big, slimy, and made mostly of teeth)
will recieve much less trust from us than something with a more benign
appearence.  Cute aliens need not follow any particular body plan, just
_appear_ nonthreatening. 
	With the above in mind, we should prepare to meet some aliens whose
apperence is extremely unnerving, since the likelyhood of cute aliens
is, in my opinion, rather low. This bodes ill for both our initial
contacts as well as continued relations.  Long term relations might
prove even most difficult as the general public gives into a wave of
xenophobia, as they surely will fear an alien race in any case and a
"hideous" race especially.  On the other hand, should we find a race
which we find "cute" we should worry about letting down our guard.  To
use a terrestrial parallel, cats certainly fit many people's definition
of "cute" and yet, they are extremely intelligent, aggressive, dangerous
animals for their weight class.  "Cute" aliens can be just as dangerous
as the others.
nels lindberg