Will E.T. Look Like Us?

Michael Shermer asks an imponderable question in Scientific American Magazine:

What are the odds that intelligent, technically advanced aliens would look anything like the ones in films, with an emaciated torso and limbs, spindly fingers and a bulbous, bald head with large, almond-shaped eyes? What are the odds that they would even be humanoid? In a YouTube video, produced by Josh Timonen of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, I argue that the chances are close to zero:

Richard Dawkins himself made this interesting observation in a private communication after viewing it:

I would agree with [Shermer] in betting against aliens being bipedal primates, and I think the point is worth making, but I think he greatly overestimates the odds against. [University of Cambridge paleontologist] Simon Conway Morris, whose authority is not to be dismissed, thinks it positively likely that aliens would be, in effect, bipedal primates. [Harvard University biologist] Ed Wilson gave at least some time to the speculation that, if it had not been for the end-Cretaceous catastrophe, dinosaurs might have produced something like the attached [referring to paleontologist Dale A. Russell’s illustrated evolutionary projection of how a bipedal dinosaur might have evolved into a reptilian humanoid].

I replied to Dawkins that if something like a smart, technological, bipedal humanoid has a certain level of inevitability because of how evolution unfolds, then it would have happened more than once here…

[continues in Scientific American Magazine]

majestic

Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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1 Comment on "Will E.T. Look Like Us?"

  1. Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute has much more intelligent things to say about this than that hack Michael Shermer ever will. Shermer is a crazy right-wing pro-Ayn Rand ideologue. His skepticism ends at his politics. I am sorry to see DisInfo giving him any publicity.

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