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Why aliens might understand the universe

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#1    Still Waters

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 10:28 AM

We assume that the way humans see the world has some correspondence to objective truth. That’s not necessarily correct. Let's do a thought experiment where we have a quick chat with an alien species to see how mistaken we are about the universe.

So we’ve made contact with aliens, and some people are celebrating and others are melting down with fear, but the overall consensus is that we should ask them over for tea or something. It’s likely that tea time conversation will be a bit stilted. What do people talk about other than what they have in common? Although we may assume that we have the whole universe in common, the aliens, if we just tweak their senses a bit, may be living in a different universe from ours.

http://io9.com/why-a...erent-756672023

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#2    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 11:01 AM

How do you explain "blue" to someone whose visual spectrum is not in our visual spectrum at all.  How do you explain the smell of "vanilla" to someone with no olfactory sense, or if they have one the chemical in question never evolved?

"Understanding," something essential for communication, is not the same as knowing.


#3    MySummerJob

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 11:19 AM

View PostStill Waters, on 15 July 2013 - 10:28 AM, said:

We assume that the way humans see the world has some correspondence to objective truth. That’s not necessarily correct. Let's do a thought experiment where we have a quick chat with an alien species to see how mistaken we are about the universe.

So we’ve made contact with aliens, and some people are celebrating and others are melting down with fear, but the overall consensus is that we should ask them over for tea or something. It’s likely that tea time conversation will be a bit stilted. What do people talk about other than what they have in common? Although we may assume that we have the whole universe in common, the aliens, if we just tweak their senses a bit, may be living in a different universe from ours.
Wait...

Are they joking/being hypothetical, or am I missing some news about alien contact here?

On topic: Obviously their view on the universe will be different than ours. In fact, who's to say that our perception of reality fits everyone on earth? There would be a lot of differences between us, and them (other than sharing the universe =P).

Edited by MySummerJob, 15 July 2013 - 11:19 AM.

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#4    Asadora

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 01:28 PM

View PostMySummerJob, on 15 July 2013 - 11:19 AM, said:

Wait...

Are they joking/being hypothetical, or am I missing some news about alien contact here?

On topic: Obviously their view on the universe will be different than ours. In fact, who's to say that our perception of reality fits everyone on earth? There would be a lot of differences between us, and them (other than sharing the universe =P).

I just looked out my window and everything appears to be as it was yesterday. No change. ;)

And I agree with your on topic comment :)

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"From time to time there appear on the face of the earth men of rare and consummate excellence, who dazzle us by their virtue, and whose outstanding qualities shed a stupendous light. Like those extraordinary stars of whose origins we are ignorant, and of whose fate, once they have vanished, we know even less, such men have neither forebears nor descendants: they are the whole of their race."  -- Jean de la Bruyere 1645-1696.

#5    Frank Merton

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 01:59 PM

This business of how we sense the universe around us is something that I have often seen people just simply not able to get at all.  They seem to take our particular interface system for granted and are unable to even imagine another.  Seems here we have a couple more cases of this.


#6    MySummerJob

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Posted 15 July 2013 - 09:28 PM

View PostFrank Merton, on 15 July 2013 - 01:59 PM, said:

This business of how we sense the universe around us is something that I have often seen people just simply not able to get at all.  They seem to take our particular interface system for granted and are unable to even imagine another.  Seems here we have a couple more cases of this.
Yeah, I've often thought about things like this, but mainly with color...



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