6 O’Clock BS – Aliens

Definition of Humanism from the American Humanist Association:

Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism and other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.

Just keep that in mind.

As a humanist I tend to believe that being human unites us, that we should all live together and try to do so peacefully. That we should cooperate, because by cooperating we can achieve great things.

What about the aliens?

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My question for today’s 6 O’Clock BS is this: When the sentient, peaceful, galaxy-exploring aliens* arrive and humanity is united and defined by a new “us and them”, what will we humanists call ourselves? I assume we humanists will expand our viewpoint to include this new being, to minimize the “us and them” and find a way to work together to thrive and grow. I hear “Universalists” is already taken.


*Basically extra-terrestrial humans who don’t want to destroy us and just want to explore and network with other universal beings. Just play along.

6 O’Clock BS – Aliens

442 thoughts on “6 O’Clock BS – Aliens

  1. 1


    Xenoempathists? Universal empaths…uni-empaths?


    Secular Sentientists (wow that’s terrible)

    Universal Cooperationalists (eesh)

    Love and peace faction

    Sentient Empathic Being-ism

    Yeah, I suck at this game.

  2. DLC

    I’m reminded of the 80s movie “Alien Nation”. Wherein the situation you describe more or less happens. Of course, some would have you believe that the Aliens are already among us. . .

  3. 4

    This is toughie. I thought “sentiencists” at first, too, but if there are typos in the future, nobody would ever be sure if you were really trying to talk about scientists instead. “Sentiencists” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, either. Maybe just “beingists?” …I don’t know…that sounds like a cult, somehow. “Personists” is a possibility, I suppose…but that kind of sounds like a group who works for legal personhood for non-human persons.

    I guess anything is going to sound weird. I guess “humanist” used to sound weird. Perplexing.

  4. HP

    Well, I’m a humanist who shares the planet with African grey parrots, New Caledonian crows, blue-ringed octopus, bottle-nose dolphins, amazing slime-mold topological computers, chimps and bonobos, eusocial insects, etc., etc., etc.

    And yet I’m still comfortable calling myself a humanist, despite sharing the planet with other intelligent beings. I’m not sure the arrival of Vulcans would change that. I fail to see how adopting an antagonistic or cavalier attitude to alien (both terrestrial and extraterrestrial) intelligences does anything to further human well-being.

  5. 7

    Well, assuming that they hold to a similar philosophy and have an equivalent term for themselves, and assuming that they don’t speak English as their native tongue, then we would just translate their term as “humanist”.
    Then if you wanted to get picky you call call us Terran Humanists and them Martian Humanists (or whatever planet they come from).

  6. 9


    Well, I’m a humanist who shares the planet with African grey parrots, New Caledonian crows, blue-ringed octopus, bottle-nose dolphins, amazing slime-mold topological computers, chimps and bonobos, eusocial insects, etc., etc., etc.

    This is an excellent point —

    And yet I’m still comfortable calling myself a humanist, despite sharing the planet with other intelligent beings.

    — but I don’t think I’m quite with you there. Couldn’t we have a better word? After all, we work now to change our old habits of phrasing to something more egalitarian, such as going from the once-ubiquitous “men” to “people” and “persons.”

    Certainly I would be comfortable with “humanist” today. But, extraterrestrials aside, how would I feel on some crazy day next week, when we learn that the dolphins have fully learned human language, and found some way to speak clearly to us, and they’re demanding that we engage in some arcane dolphin legal proceeding with them? I would still know what “humanist” meant, or at least what the intent of the movement behind the label meant, but it seems to me that the label itself would drop a notch on its own principles.

    Hm. I hope that was coherent.

  7. 12

    SundogA — I think that suffers from the same problem. See (from the “humane” entry on entymonline.com):

    mid-15c., variant of human (cf. german/germane, urban/urbane), used interchangeably with it until early 18c., by which time it had become a distinct word with sense of “having qualities befitting human beings.”

    The things we call “humane qualities” are good qualities, yes, but I get this sense that labeling the high-minded actions of a non-human being as “humane” gives an impression that the default best creature is us, which doesn’t promote the idea of a society of equals.

    Also, did everybody else know that the Humane Society was originally founded to rescue people who were drowning? I didn’t.

    I’m seriously-unseriously starting to consider “Love and peace faction.” It’s at least humorously descriptive.

  8. 13

    I think this topic interests me more than it should.

    Anyway, I really do have another point that I think is worth making. It might be a side item, though (and I suspect it is).

    So right now there are humanists, we know what that means, and it’s fine. But I can imagine some point in the future in which we would be confronted with the bald fact that we shared the universe with painfully obviously sentient others. “Humanist” has a potential at that point to be claimed by something incredibly ugly. Consider, if you’d never heard them before, that phrases like “Men’s Rights Activist” and “Nordic Pride Festival” would sound benign or even positive. And, in a sane universe, that would be so.

    That said, reclaiming “cosmopolitan” has a certain appeal.

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