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"They Walk Amongst Us" test

What would happen ?
  [vote for,

The inhabitants of many large cities are notoriously indifferent to events around them; serious crimes can be committed, or individuals can lie collapsed in the street, and many pedestrians will just walk on by. Or indeed cross over to avoid whatever it is ...

Which begs the question, "What will cynical, hardened city-dwellers accept ?"

The answer is probably "Quite a lot, actually."

If a bipedal humanoid walked around (for example) Times Square, NY, in a Star Trek TOS uniform and with Vulcan ears and haircut, they probably wouldn't get more than a passing glance from the bustling multitude. "Some Trekkie on their way to a convention" would be the probable conclusion.

But that's not a fair test, because a Vulcan is a fairly familiar cultural stereotype in the West.

So how far can things be pushed before the Man in the Street actually reacts ?

Our guess is "A surprisingly long way".

So, we propose a formal experiment, involving hidden cameras, to observe the reactions of the public to an apparent extraterrestrial in their midst.

The makeup/costume etc. would have to be done with incredible skill, and robotic/animatronic prostheses might be needed; perhaps to place the performers in the "Uncanny Valley" <link>. The idea would be to have one or more "aliens" simply move peacefully through an urban setting, looking around them, possibly employing "instruments" of some kind to explore their environment. They might enter shops, and speak the local language through a "translator". Not foolish "Take me to your Leader" stuff, but something a foreign tourist with imperfect cultural and linguistic knowledge might ask.

Some security would need to lurk discreetly nearby, just in case someone decided that they really were aliens and decided to take action.

The study would reveal just what humans are now prepared to believe ("just about anything") and more importantly accept. There's a Ph.D. in there for some keen psychology graduate ...

(A cursory search of the web reveals no evidence that this has actually been tried).

8th of 7, Aug 02 2020

(?) The "Uncanny Valley" https://en.wikipedi...wiki/Uncanny_valley
Residental properties to let, reasonable rates ... [8th of 7, Aug 02 2020]

Covid-19 Fever Detecting Infrared Camera "They Live" Prank. Covid-19_20Fever_20...0Live_22_20Prank_2e
Inspiration [8th of 7, Aug 02 2020]

um... https://imgur.com/gallery/Otp3YI7
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Aug 20 2020]


       //no evidence that this has actually been tried// Well duh, what do you expect them to do? Post Youtubes of the funniest moments? Publish reports in Human ethnography and social studies journals?   

       Oh you mean no evidence that -humans- have ever tried it for make-believe? Well that's true.
pocmloc, Aug 02 2020

       Captain Pike would be far too "normal".   

       // you’d have to get pretty bizarre //   

       Indeed; that's the premise of the idea. Forget any sort of bipedal, humanoid form - tentacles, wings, compound eyes, and other less obvious cues - such as very odd smell, like Wilbur Whatley ("As a foulness shall ye know Them").   

       // cities with reputations of being either staid or weird. //   

       It will be interesting to examine the differing attitudes - that's what the study is all about. Is there a difference between, say, Amsterdam, which "embraces diversity", and NYC, which "simply doesn't give a damn" ?   

       The suspicion would be that as long as the visitor isn't overtly threatening or hostile then curiosity and/or social conventions like “Timmy, it’s not polite to stare.” will predominate. Young children are likely to be the most curious and willing to investigate. For example, they stare at "human statue" performance artists with undisguised fascination.   

       In a big city, more than likely a lot of passers-by will simply think it's some sort of street theatre.
8th of 7, Aug 02 2020

       // What do you propose for a control, //   


       // and how do you filter out confirmation bias? //   

       By selective editing of the data until the desired result is obtained. Why, is there another way ?
8th of 7, Aug 02 2020

       Didn't one of the 'science' / TV shows bake this already?   

       I remember some actors made up to look like Denisovans or Neanderthals or some such put in modern clothes then sent to walk around a shopping centre to see what peoples response was.   

       Been looking for a clip but I can't remember the program's name so no joy.
Skewed, Aug 02 2020

       "Meet the Ancestors". Facial prosthetics and posture training allowed the performers to display a pretty close approximation to what a Neanderthal would look like.   

       They passed almost completely unnoticed in a busy urban environment; some passers-by gave them "He's a funny looking sod" glances, but no comments or overt interest.
8th of 7, Aug 02 2020

       That sounds like the bunny.
Skewed, Aug 02 2020

       //Wilbur Whatley//   

       How is Kevin Whately related?   

       "Lewis! Put away those suppurating eldritch belly-tendrils; this is a *murder* enquiry."
"Sorry sir, I just thought ..."
"You thought *what*, Lewis? ... Come on!"
squelch, squlch, squch
"Right-o sir."
pertinax, Aug 03 2020

       "Ah, Morse ..."

       "What have we got, Doc ?"

       "Bit of an odd one, this. Looks like his brains have been sucked out by an eldritch entity from another plane of existence. "

       <Lewis wanders away with upper grasping appendages in pockets, tries to look innocent/>
8th of 7, Aug 03 2020

       Try for perhaps unusually tall, with an unusual gait, as provided by some stilt-type shoes.   

       Or something that is only noticed after they've passed, like maybe a tail-like appendage swishing around under a trenchcoat.
RayfordSteele, Aug 03 2020

       The tail would simply elicit a glance & a grin as I walk away assuming it's some prankster with an animatronic prosthetic & nothing more.   

       & stilt shoes are far too commonly known to exist for the other to really work in any way I think.   

       I believe mine would be the normal reaction [Ray] .. which I think illustrates [8th]'s point?
Skewed, Aug 03 2020

       Why would an alien intelligence be anything like a humanoid biped?   

       Isn't a distributed intelligence, which interacts with people through electronic devices in their hands, much more interestingly alien?
pertinax, Aug 06 2020

       No, because familiarity engenders indifference.   

       // Why would an alien intelligence be anything like a humanoid biped? //   

       Convergent evolution; form follows function. All birds have pretty much the same body plan because of the rules of aerodynamics, for instance.   

       Of course, if intelligent life evolved in a radically different environment, such as a gas giant, then the optimal form is likely to be very different. But for the purposes of this test, the "life-form" has to be adapted to an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere, a temperature of about 293 K, and gravity of around 10 ms-2.
8th of 7, Aug 06 2020

       ..... @ .... @ ......@ ...... @ ......   

       <Slow handclap/>   


       // that does not favor a humanoid biped //   

       Woolly thinking.   

       It has to favour the humanoid bipeds that are the test subjects, in their natural environment. D'oh ...   

       Of course you can fabricate an "alien" adapted for radically different environmental conditions, but the point is in the title: "They Walk Amongst Us". Thus the "alien" has to be able to be able to interact -to a limited extent - with the natives, without the encumbrance of an environment suit.
8th of 7, Aug 06 2020

       It might even get elected as the President of the USA ...   

       Oh, forget we mentioned that ... s' a secret. Allegedly.
8th of 7, Aug 06 2020

       The way evolution works is a bit random & accidental [8th].   

       Plus the form that comes before each 'change' has to be fit to survive it's extant competition.   

       So conceivably precursor forms that might lead to 'optimal' forms can become extinct before they get the chance.   

       That we've four limbs instead of six, eight or more can very possibly be chalked up to a simple accident of evolution in early chordates from which all endoskeletal animals on earth are descended, plus a dominant species (particularly a marginally intelligent or cooperative one) can conceivably retain it's dominance simply by force of numbers when the environment it evolved in changes.   

       So it doesn't automatically follow that our four limbed bipedal body plan really is the 'optimal' one for our extant environment.
Skewed, Aug 06 2020

       // our four limbed bipedal body plan //   

       So, you have a four limbed bipedal body plan ?   

       There are many species on your planet that fulfill those criteria. We need more information if you wish to convince us that you are actually human.
8th of 7, Aug 20 2020

       That would be satisfactory.
8th of 7, Aug 20 2020


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