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Re: starship-design: alien aesthetics

In a message dated 5/17/98 8:53:12 PM, lindberg@olywa.net wrote:

>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

Hey they must have grown those big teath for some reason.  ;)

True, it would be an irony if the friendliest race in the galaxy looked like
the Aliens in the Alein movie serries (then again some folks think they look
sexy <shudder>).