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If humanity discovered peaceful aliens that are truly alien, not just rubber head aliens, but alien in a way that seemingly defies the way evolution occurred on our world. Considering humans have a habit of fearing things they don't understand, mixed with the fact that fear turns to hatred in the human heart, could human culture ever accept aliens into their culture?

To avoid being overly broad lets assume that the aliens are members of one of the least human species discussed on this site; The anthills.

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    $\begingroup$ What would be the technological difference? Depending on your answer, either slavery or war. (not sure about war but I am pessimistic like that) $\endgroup$ – PatJ Jul 15 '16 at 22:57
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    $\begingroup$ What, you're saying rubber heads don't defy evolution? $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Ford Jul 16 '16 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ Do they eat us? $\endgroup$ – TOOGAM Jul 16 '16 at 2:48

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I would say that pretty much any life form will eventually gain some form of cultural acceptance, but that whether we would want to have them around will depend on a few things.

Terrible body odor, very sharp, pointy (dangerous looking) appendages which could very easily cause harm if someone were to bump into them, etc. would cause people to largely shun them, and rightly so.

This is not to say that people wouldn't interact with them at all, or hate them as a species, but mingling with them would be difficult for very real reasons, not just xenophobia.

Another big point is whether we would be able to communicate with them openly. A hive mind such as you describe probably wouldn't be interested in engaging any mere human drone in conversation. At that point we might deal with them at the government level, but not necessarily ever even see one in person, let alone speak to them.

Accepting them culturally will also tie in with whether we trust them politically and militarily. There's always going to be crazies claiming that an alien ate their baby, or pet, that one of them tried to "probe" them, etc. But if the aliens prove trust worthy and actually engage with humanity at some level then yes, they would be accepted.

Consider that hundreds of thousands of nerds such as ourselves would be super excited to meet them.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. This makes me think of the UN being in contact with the Earth's ant "hive mind(s)", receiving resources and intel from them and giving compesations for the few (relatively) ants we (the human population) kill daily. They wouldn't even need to tell the general public. What would be the point? Ants would still be just ants. $\endgroup$ – xDaizu Jul 19 '16 at 16:12
  • $\begingroup$ Finally, someone who actually considers a question instead of jumping immediately to the conclusion that all humans are intolerant bigots that kill everything they meet. Great answer, I love it. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Aug 3 '16 at 19:13
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Gut reaction: no, aliens cannot become part of human culture. However, it would be possible for both cultures to merge into one shared culture.

This would require time (many generations), during which there will be opponents on both sides trying to stop the process or derail it.

If it does succeed, the culture will probably be 1/3rd originally human, 1/3rd originally alien and 1/3rd completely new stuff that grew out of the cross-pollination of cultures.

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It depends on a variety of factors.

1) are the aliens truly peaceful? A truly peaceful race has a lot better chance at being accepted than a warfaring race (though it should be stated that we would probably understand a warfaring race better, even if we wouldn't accept them per se).

But what if the peace is a fragile one, and one easily able to be broken due to simple misunderstandings? A classic Far Side cartoon has a race of aliens shaped like hands and the bumpkin who they first run into pick up their header and shake him, thus dooming earth to destruction.

2) what are the differences? are they simply made of different stuff than we, but generally configured the same with a head, 2 arms, 2 legs, and divided into different genders? (for instance a sentient race made of crystal aka diamondhead from Ben 10)

The weirder and more outlandish the differences, the more difficult of a time we will have understanding and accepting them. In the original Star Trek there's a creature called the Horta which is, by all appearances a un- sentient monster that's killing the miners, but Spock gets to the root of the problem by communicating with it to their mutual benefit.

3) what are their motives? In the Twilight Zone episode "To Serve Man" the aliens came and solved many (if not all) of mankind's problems, in order to use us as cattle.

4) Are we able to communicate with them? any sort of peace needs to be based on mutual understanding and communication. What happens if the form of communication is one that only other animals and not humans understand? What if said communication enrages the animals they come into contact with?

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    $\begingroup$ So long and thanks for all the fish! $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Jul 16 '16 at 7:18
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Yes, it can happen.

There were always people who said that different human cultures couldn't live together. Germans and French. Japanese and Koreans. Improved communications, easier travel, and a common enemy made it possible to recognize common ground.

It will change both societies.

Turkish and Arab immigrants in Western Europe have influenced music, styles of street food, etc. Same for Mexicans in the US. They also show different voting patterns than the old population.

There will be backlash.

Some people simply won't accept the change to their culture, often but not always out of ignorance. There are studies that having an immigrant co-worker makes one less afraid that immigrants are taking jobs away from the old population. Xenophobia is most rampant where there are few immigrants. (Of course that could be a chicken and egg problem -- people don't go where they are not welcome if they can help it.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Comparing Turks, Arabs and Mexicans to the least human alien species imaginable........... $\endgroup$ – Shautieh Jul 16 '16 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Shautieh, 500 years ago, people in Europe went to war over different branches of Christianity. Today they hardly ever notice. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jul 16 '16 at 10:31
  • $\begingroup$ What surprises me is that you seem to think a difference in faith/religion is analogous to a difference in genetics... And also, German and French culture do not live together, we live close to each other that's all. Koreans clap and rejoice when there are tsunamis hitting Japan and killing thousands. Without the nuclear bomb I am not even sure whether France and Germany wouldn't have gone to war again (you say that 500 years ago people waged religious war in Europe, but no century has seen war as much as last century!). $\endgroup$ – Shautieh Jul 16 '16 at 11:23
  • $\begingroup$ About xenophobia, my personal experience and the literature do not agree with you: xenophobia is most rampant where there are lots of immigrants. The most xenophobic people I know come from places where the immigrants have become a majority to the detriment of local people. Conversely, the most xenophile people I know are people living in sheltered area who only see two types of immigrants : well integrated and educated ones, and low wages slaves who will clean their flats and sell kebab for almost nothing. $\endgroup$ – Shautieh Jul 16 '16 at 11:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Shautieh, look at the numbers in Europe. East Germany vs. West Germany, Hungary vs. Luxembourg. $\endgroup$ – o.m. Jul 17 '16 at 9:14
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The very first question is: Would we even recognize them as sentient beings? Or would we just see an ordinary anthill of a previously unknown ant species? If the latter, we will only coexist peacefully as long as they don't get in our way. You wouldn't have any qualms about fighting ants entering your home and eating your food, would you?

Also, would the sentient anthills recognize us as sentient beings? Would they be able to comprehend that a single animal, no matter how large, could be sentient?

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No, it's not possible

If we have a common enemy we can very well become allies and tolerate each other, but for accepting to share our culture they would need more than simply being sentient beings. If we can't interbred, worse, if we can't even share emotions then how are we supposed to fraternise at all?

It's difficult enough to accept humans from other cultures (and usually one has to lose his own culture in order to be accepted), so I don't see it coming for non humans beings, ever. Will they be able with their bodies to enjoy our food? We probably won't like the same stuff at all! Will they be able to speak our language without vocal cords and etc.? It will be a pain to talk to them. Will they feel pain the way we do, weep the way we do? Probably nope...

Again, we could live peacefully and accept each other if their presence is beneficial to us (and vice versa), and maybe even enjoy their presence, but that's it.

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Yes, It will always lead to peaceful acceptance of aliens

Before I start I want say that regardless of how much time passes, there will be always a small sect of people who resent, blame and are opposed to aliens. So 100 % acceptance is never possible, it extends not only to aliens but to acceptance of any thing.

If humanity (current century) discovered peaceful aliens, I am gonna assume that aliens discovered us, and they visit us. There might be protest, hatred, even some who pray to them and lots of other people who see them in different manner. But most government officials and scientific community would understand the difference in scale of technology (at-least capable of near light speed travel), and would never opt for a animosity. It would be like bears or wolves trying to attack us because we have advanced technology, we would always kill them if we thought they posed a threat. If the aliens were to extend a olive branch, we would immediately accept it and try to learn their technology and improve our own either for creating defense in case of future attacks by aliens or for technological evolution. Regardless of the aliens appearances, as humans more than anything are cunning, (government might spin a different story to public).

If after us learning to adapt their technology choose not to go to war with them. (Probably wont, in fear that they may have hidden higher technologies). With new technology, and new improvement to consumers, most humans would accepting for aliens, they might still be apprehensive of direct interaction, but most humans wont hold a grudge or distaste for them. 2-3 generations from the initial meeting, aliens might even partially integrate themselves in our societies. There would be still racism against them, but would gradually decrease with generations.

A good real life example is Saudi Arabia. Regardless of its human right abuses west largely ignores it because oil.

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  • $\begingroup$ Japans seclusion 1840 is an amazing example of this, as soon as Japanese realized the superiority they choose to accept and adapt. $\endgroup$ – Chinu Jul 16 '16 at 11:40
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    $\begingroup$ We ignore Saudi Arabia human right abuses and Wahhabi terrorism subventions, but that doesn't mean we accept them in our culture. I agree with you about accepting the alien presence as it is beneficial for us (and for them I guess, otherwise they wouldn't care), but accepting them into our cultures is a very different matter IMHO. $\endgroup$ – Shautieh Jul 16 '16 at 11:48
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Probably not.

Just think how one human culture accepted another human culture in ou history. And think how the non-hostile citizens ended when discovered by explorers with advanced technology.

Most probable scenario will be attack them and wipe them out. Then the humanity will fight each other for the new resources, see very ending of

Iron Sky, especiall after the nazi fleet and Gotterdämerung are destroyed.

Secon option is, that we'll attack them but will not conquer them resulting in long war. May be, humanity will reach unity, but i suppose not.

If humanity and some alien culture shall merge it will take a vast ammount of time and we will need third alien species strong and lethal enough to force both species to join their effort to survive. This threat must also last enough to polish our built-in "pride and prejudice". Play Conflict FreeSpace: The Great War (US: Descent) and its sequel FreeSpace II.

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Two factors will determine the outcome:

  1. Resources. If humans and the aliens both need (or greatly desire) a resource subject to the rules of scarcity, the potential for conflict is present.

  2. Pride. If our rulers decide that their interests are best advanced by conflict, there will be conflict, unless the rest of humanity responds to this by replacing their leadership.

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In the future, we may have posthumans and transhumans. If people are used to transcending their biological existance and eventually uploaded minds and AI outnumber the biological humans, they may be a lot more accepting of intelligences in other forms than we imagine we can be today. It’s just a new style of hardware, well after getting past the notion that the intelligent being is not dependant on what hardware he runs on in order to be a being.

Is this common or even universal among star-fairing species? The people that meet in space may be uploaded intelligences running in ultra-low-mass starships. They might get pretty far along in terms of friendship and collaboration before the subject even comes up of “Hey, what did your original phenotype look like?”

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History shows that different human cultures first meet there is mutual incomprehension and misunderstanding. If hostility doesn't get in the way the different cultures start to learn about each other and make mutual adjustments in how they deal with each other.

The incomprehension and misunderstanding gap between humans and aliens, in fact, any aliens would be so much bigger. Presumably the time required to develop mutual understanding and cooperation would take longer than between any two human cultures. However, the very alienness of the two cultures with respect to each other means they won't be competing for the same resources, so this reduces the likelihood of conflict. It may also provide greater incentive for them to want to understand one another and to cooperate.

Part of this will be driven by the advantages of understanding and cooperating with the aliens. For example, if they arrived on Earth in gigantic twenty kilometre long starships you can be sure there is a lot about their technology we would want to learn and acquire. If for no other reason to reduce any risk and threat they represent.

Ease of communication will be one of the major factors to be bridged before easy conversation can take place between members of the two species. Don't expect instant results -- unless the aliens had a lot of experience at dealing with other alien species, then they might be extremely good at bridging the gap between them and us.

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