The Psychology of Classification (of Aliens)

i-75fa6f7cebb4145668724f37f5a52b36-steve_icon_medium.jpgSo... my girlfriend studies categories and concepts and her adviser wanted her to show a video for her first year project. Of course I went out to youtube and tried to find something sensible since I'm procrastinating right now on my psych 100 syllabus - and of course I found something absolutely ridiculous (hey... it IS youtube). Here is how to categorize all the Alien Species that have been wandering around the earth since our first contact with our galactic overlords at Roswell:

More like this

Umm, none of those look a bit like Ray Walston. Or Mork from Ork.

By Dirka Dirka (not verified) on 13 Aug 2008 #permalink

Seven kinds of aliens? I can't imagine seven of anything! It staggers the imagination!

Wouldn't it be nice if we actual got some real data, such as how many people the artist interviewed, how many descriptions fit into each category, and how varied those were?

Instead of commenting on the descriptions and noting possible explanations for the commonalities, we get an artist who appears to fully believe in these things. Aliens who are the worker class? So we have different species (from different kingdoms and even domains) who work together in some sort of stratified caste system? Sounds like a lot of postulating from simple descriptions ("It was green and had a little hair on it"; "Perfect.. human noise."!).

Well, now you just need to trace back where those 'types' were first described / shown (hint: look at SciFi).

One thing that really does bug me (beyond the general idiocy) is the lack of physical plausibility of some of the 'types'. This dude isn't a very good forensic artist, since he apparently failed anatomy.

PS: My brother is an illustrator (mostly fantasy stuff). I remember very distinctly long ago (when he was still in HS) working on a commissioned piece of a 'demon'... he started with the bone structure and worked his way up (copy of Grey's anatomy and some animal references sitting on his desk of course.)

I was going to comment the implausibility of some of the aliens' anatomy, travc. There is no way (at least in Earth gravity) that some of those necks could support the heads they supposedly carry. Presuming an anatomy similar to animals here on Earth, there's not enough space in those necks for sufficient bone and muscle, let alone inclusion of an oesophagus.

Credo Mutwa, Zulu shaman (as featured on PBS), knows well the "gray". According to him, the humanoid exterior is merely a metallic suit encasing the raw and pink creature within -- a creature whose flesh tastes of copper and induces strange immunological responses (yes, he claims to have eaten one). See An entertaining read, at least.

White body? Big black eyes? Pandas?

What? No Vulcans?

By themadlolscien… (not verified) on 18 Aug 2008 #permalink

There is a whole book on the different types of aliens - when you want a good laugh it is worth a look :) Obviously it cannot be a real book or classification system if Klingons are not listed ;)