Topic ID #28376 - posted 4/23/2013 2:25 AM

Anthropologists explain how to approach aliens parked in Earth orbit



Jennifer Palmer

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Anthropologists explain how to approach aliens parked in Earth orbit

It happens all the time in science fiction stories: aliens park their vessels in Earth orbit, and things go pear-shaped. But what if this scenario unfolded in real life? What would be the best thing for us to do? We asked several anthropologists the best way to go about communicating with truly unknown life forms.

For this thought experiment, you have to imagine a ship has parked in orbit, but has not shown any signs of hostility. It's just sitting there. So what do we do next? More importantly, what would be an ideal, ethical response, rather the fist-in-tentacles response Will Smith made famous in Independence Day?

This very question has been a topic at the annual CONTACT conference for twenty-five years running. Anthropologist Jim Funaro, who founded the conference, said anthropologists are ideal consultants for extraterrestrial communication:

    Because of their century of experience in “intraterrestrial” fieldwork and their commitment to a multicultural approach, anthropologists may be the most appropriately-trained scientists to inform protocol for, and initiate encounters in, contact situations whenever and wherever they occur. A primary rule in ethnographic field work: Make no assumptions.


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