Editorial – April 2013
Believing the outsider.
Have you ever noticed that the most successful genre heroes aren’t human? They might be humanoid and have either similar values to us or ones we would aspire to. From this we have the likes of Superman, Spock and the Doctor. All three are recognisable throughout the world but alien. More remarkable, they are visual characters. There are none amongst our genre written fiction that can have as much fame and instantly recognisable across the world. None of them have made as much impact.
It does raise an interesting question as to why these particular characters? Superman and the Doctor have demonstrated a strong aspect of do-gooding which makes a lot of sense and something we can aspire to. Spock differs in that as being half-human and raised on Vulcan, he is curious about human emotional behaviour and if you think about it, not to mention all the Agony Aunt columns out there, so are we. Do we prefer to listen to a psychologist or a pointy-eared alien? In that respect, I suspect we question that about ourselves so we can draw a similar comparison.
This also tells us a lot more ourselves as well. Even though all three are human created characters, it does point out that Man has a dependency on needing an outsider to tell him or herself the things they need to hear prefer this more than one of his own kind doing it. Maybe they are immune to us seeing them as rivals? If you don’t believe that, think of the religiously inclined. They even accept proxy contact through priests so there’s an even stronger similarity. This is more to do with the connection between the two than any belief system. A demonstration of a need to believe something that is…well…not us to offer guidance, if you see what I mean. Does that mean we instinctively believe we need such guidance or just a willingness to listen to the non-human being a quirk of our nature?
That doesn’t mean that we don’t believe things other humans tell us. Just maybe not as much but we do pay more attention to things we believe aren’t us. Whether it’s aliens or…er…this will raise some hackles, the word of a deity. There, that should avoid a Google search. If I’m wrong, get a burning bush to talk to me about it although that hasn’t happened in the past two thousand years as far as I can tell.
Let’s treat this in broader terms and the possibilities this might take us. If it’s in our nature to believe something that isn’t human, what is going to happen when we have our first true extra-terrestrial encounter who presents us with a different viewpoint to ourselves? Not only are we going to get a cultural and technological shock to our differences but a large percentage of us are likely to believe everything they tell us, especially what they think about us. We have a proven record in this area.
It might be compounded by the aliens not realising how susceptible we are to believing things from people outside ourselves. There’s a small percentage of aliens that they might, assuming that they watch our TV broadcasts and take an interest in our genre, realise that or just take an interest in our religions. It won’t be weapons we’ll fear or obey, we’ll already be engrossed by what they have to say. Let’s hope they have a moral compass or we are going to have serious dilemma. Don’t you find that a little worrying?
Would they abuse that knowledge and do it? Maybe. An alien mindset will have different motivations although they will always serve self-interest first. After a long space flight, having a bunch of humans slavishly bowing to their every whim would be something they might rather enjoy. Who knows how they might think or have a similar problem and listen to what we have to say about them. My deities will talk to your deity depending on how monodeiftistic they are. They might be interested in all of our culture but they must also take an interest in how we see aliens and themselves in particular. If I was them and saw how aggressive humans are and couldn’t tell the difference between fiction and real life, I would be flying my spaceship in the opposite direction as our fiction clearly shows we don’t show much tolerance that way. Humans are, by and large, unfortunately appear very xenophobic and although it’s invariably suppressed, it comes within our aggressive nature. It’s also contradictory because we would like to see the xeno point of view, whether we believe it or not. Yet, in reality, we gladly listen to non-human so we really do come over as contradictory in a way that would knot any psychiatrist. If there is a conspiracy, maybe it is to show contradictory behaviour just to ensure that extra-terrestrials keep their distance.
Both of these are also classic Science Fiction scenarios only never explored this way. Neither of which take into account the fact that we are more likely to want to believe what an alien says. Hell, we’d probably have a book range on the subject out within a fortnight of arrival. Major, major celebrities. They’d have willing followers in less than a week. Whole cults in less than a fortnight. Let’s just hope no one sells them the planet. If you’re wondering why I didn’t write a story about the subject? Which would you believe? A story or a serious editorial discussion about human gullibility from someone who doesn’t claim to be human? Exactly. Now do as I say and read on.
If anything, the real question here is why? Are humans naturally gullible? Are you incapable of thinking for yourself? Hmmm…let’s look at that point, although we are critical of ourselves for the most part. I’ve pointed out in the past that Man is very much a herd animal and can seem like a headless chicken without some strong leadership. We wouldn’t need mind control, there are too few capable or wanting to really think for ourselves.
If this is a personality weakness, what should we do to thwart it? From a geeky point of view, it helps if we make good decisions for ourselves than run with the herd. Thing is, when it comes to extra-terrestrials, we could ultimately appear to be the most vulnerable. After all, what is the one thing we would like to see happen in our own lifetime? Exactly. But would our natural inclination towards the sciences than religions offer us any protection let alone our non-conformity? Would we be natural observers than loyal servants? It’s an interesting dilemma that only you can answer. Truthfully, though, we’re never likely to know for sure until the first contact scenario happens.
From the extra-terrestrial point of view, if they know we have this problem, would they exploit it or find humans who will at least stay rational in their presence? After all, they might prefer to have intelligence discussion than yes-men and women in front of them. Having us geeks introduce aliens would certainly look a little odd to the non-genre humans out there although it is conceivable that we might be immune to cultural shock. Hopefully, it wouldn’t be ray guns at thirty paces.
One thing that should be obvious from this discussion point, if there are protocols for human/extra-terrestrial contact out there, let’s hope someone’s take note of the human condition or at least having read this editorial and have a serious re-think. No wonder various governments are hoping that the first contact won’t be a spaceship openly landing in the capital wanting to meet our leaders. Wouldn’t you want to do a test encounter to make sure we aren’t meekly submissive?
Many people read what I say here. Does the fact that I don’t see myself as being entirely human make that any easier to absorb what I’m typing? If you agree, then read this editorial two more times before going away and having a think.
Thank you, take care, good night and you can believe me because I’ve never claimed to be human.
December 2012, even though I hadn’t left an active link to my email address, it got solidly attacked and then blocked from everyone, including myself. By necessity, having a form of open contact to me comes as part of the editor’s job. I’m still seeking reviewers and new material so follow the paths through the website and go where no spam-bot dares. I’ve yet to see them write anything. Humans and aliens can apply, providing they live in the UK. Monsters need to prove they can read and write. We could do with some reviewers who like fantasy right now. Don’t be scared of the instructions, you’d be surprised how easy it is to learn. So, if you want to contact me, build these words into an email address: gf Willmetts at hotmail dot com
NB. Check out the SFC Forum for convention notices, especially where some companies are postioned and their schedules, and book signings. We still put them there rather in the new format.
A Zen thought: A healthy stem gives healthy leaves and fruit. It has no chance in cold weather.