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The E:

--- Quote from: Black Wolf on February 20, 2019, 07:04:23 pm ---The whole "Sci-Fi Aliens are Unrealistic!" trope has been around for ages. It's not wrong, but there's a pretty compelling counterargument that you can draw from evolutionary biology. The short version is that a) there are certain things that have evolved repeatedly on Earth and show clear selective advantage and b) there are certain environments where general intelligence and the ability to manipulate tools in complex ways has less selective value than other things, like an aerodynamic or hydrodynamic shape. As a result, tool using intelligent Aliens that make it into a full on technological society like ours are likely to have a number of things in common (stereoscopic front facing eyes, complex manipulators not involved in locomotion etc.) and likely have come down a relatively limited number of evolutionary niches (probably not exclusively aquatic, probably can't fly, likely not exclusively herbivorous etc.). I'm not saying the first Aliens  we meet are going to look exactly like us but with slightly different ears, but to my mind, a Vasudan is vastly more realistic than a Shivan.

I should get around to writing this all down some day. :P

--- End quote ---

When you do, keep in mind the limitations of that argument. Yes, when we look at life on Earth, we see certain patterns appear and reappear over and over again -- that does not mean, however, that these things are universally optimal.

Evolution isn't a search algorithm for the best solution to a given problem. It's a search algorithm that finds the first usable solution; it can run into situations where it will keep iterating on something sub-optimal instead of switching tracks to the actual optimal solution.

We literally cannot make any assumptions about life on other planets based on life on ours. Even assumptions about what it means to be intelligent are possibly fallacious (see Peter Watts' seminal Blindsight on this issue); literally anything is possible when you have to deal with the results of processes that are based on random chance operating over billions of years.

Black Wolf:
I'm familiar with that argument E and I understand the appeal, but I don't agree for a variety of reasons. My whole position on what we can expect from Aliens is kind of based on the idea that that argument is fundamentally flawed once you examine it in detail. I started typing out a response but it got too long and unwieldy, I'll write something proper up one day.

I would add that the Aforementioned need for stereoscopic eyes, complex manipulators, not being a herbivore, and high intelligence, doesn't really require being humanoid in appearance- just an endothermic mirror-symmetrical Vertebrate/Chordate at the Absolute least, I agree that the Zods make more evolutionary sense then the Shivans, but not everyone out in space is going to be a Savannah-dwelling, Pursuit/Endurance predator with two arms and two legs that eats, breaths, and communicates via the same hole. IMHO.

Alex Ries's "Birrin" are a good example of non-human looking life that still makes sense:

Hidden Text: Show  < this one and          <  this one are both really good

Saw this come up on Twitter; Thought I stop by and give me two cents...

I think "plausability"-article to be a bad idea, playing to the worst aspects of pedantic "nerd culture". IMO "Plausability" is a bad access point to Fiction (please, remember my dislike of realist styles in art); Science Fiction has a specialy relationship with reality by being science-based fiction, and therefor plausability plays more important role in it then in other genres - however that should not negate the why behind one engages in fiction, e.g. to explore a hypothetical or contrafactual sequence of events to elaborate a theme or a thesis (however basic it might be).

Additionally, "plausability"-arguements tend to towards the non-pragmatic that does not allign itself well with the story-telling or performance requirements that are made to make things work for audience or to work in production at all - e.g. arguments of cost or convience (e.g. that certain actors don't have skill or physique to act underneath prostethics make-up or through elaborate physical routines).

I just think that if aliens look identical it's a lack of creativity, either by the evolution or the writers. Or lack of budget.


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