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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1998 > Jul > Jul 9

The Case For Humanoids

From: Mark Pilkington <m.pilkington@virgin.net>
Date: Thu, 09 Jul 1998 22:59:19 +0100
Fwd Date: Thu, 09 Jul 1998 21:44:33 -0400
Subject: The Case For Humanoids


The P.L.A. Driftwood International Conspiracy Cartel's computer
is temporarily out of action, so Mark Pilkington has kindly
agreed to post this on our behalf.

John Rimmer writes:

In recent postings on this list, Jerry Clark has made a great
deal of noise about the work of Michael Swords. Swords argument
is that any extraterrestrial intelligences which are likely to
visit earth will be generally humanoid in shape and have similar
social motivations as humans. For some reason Jerry seems to
think that this theory is supportive of ETH speculations about
UFO origins. Dennis Stacy describes being at the 1991 MUFON
symposium when Swords gave one of his first public expositions
of his exobiological speculations.

It is puzzling that Jerry should think that Swords' work is
either groundbreaking or supportive of the ETH. I attach an
extract from a short article, "The Case for Humanoids" by
psycho-social bogeyman John Harney, which was published in MUFOB
(the earlier name of Magonia) new series no.6, Spring 1977.
Jerry did receive this magazine at the time, but no doubt it is
filed away beneath the wealth of other publications which he is
constantly urging us to read.

THE CASE FOR HUMANOIDS

John Harney

Is it likely that there are intelligent beings on other planets?
Would they resemble us, or would they be totally different in
appearance and behaviour?

Many scientists today believe that life will eventually evolve
where it is physically possible for it to do so, and given
sufficient time and favourable conditions, intelligent being
will eventually emerge. New discoveries in biology are taking
place almost daily but the question of the origin of life is
still controversial. Some experts believe that the origin of
life of Earth was a singular event, the result of an extremely
unlikely chain of chemical reactions, an event so improbable as
to be unlikely to be repeated anywher else in the universe at
any time. According to Jacques Monod:

"...the biosphere does not contain a predictable class of
objects or events but is a particular event, certainly
compatible indeed with first principles, but not *deducable*
from those principles, and therefore unpredictable." (1)

However, many scientists would argue that it would be possible
to predict the occurence of life, if only we knew enough about
biology. Those who believe that life is quite common in the
universe often say that it is unlikely to be much like life on
Earth:

"Some scientists have been especially impressed by the number of
individually unlikely events which are together responsible for
the development of man and human intelligence. They have
emphasised that even if the Earth were starting out again from
scratch, and only random factors allowed to operate, the
development of anything like a human being would be highly
unlikely." (2)

Such opinions seem very plausible, but they fail to take into
account the various constraints imposed by the laws of nature.
For example: "...silicon compounds might replace carbon
molecules as structural biochemicals". (3) The notion that there
could be forms of life based on silicon rather than carbon crops
up again and again in the literature. It should not be taken
seriously, as such an idea betrays an ignorance of elementary
chemistry. Some writers assume that because silicon is the
nearest neighbour to carbon in the periodic table and also has a
valency of four, then it can form bolds with hydrogen, oxygen,
etc., to produce compounds analogous to compounds based on
carbon and having similar properties. this is not true. The bond
energies involved in the links between silicon and other
elements, and carbon and other elements, have different values.
the Si-Si bondis weaker than the C-C bond, but the Si-O bond is
stronger that the C-O bond. To see what this means in practice
we can compare the gas that bubbles out of fizzy drinks, carbon
dioxide, with a lump of quartz, silicon dioxide. I maintain that
anyone who takes the trouble to consult the appropriate
chemistry text-books will be readily convinced that a
biochemistry based on silicon is impossible.

So here we have a basic constraint on the nature of any living
creature, imposed by the laws of chemistry. Observational
evidence indicates that these laws are the same throughout the
observable universe, so there would seem to be no way of
avoiding this conclusion.

Assuming that intelligent beings have evolved on other planets,
what would they look like? It is tempting to speculate that they
would look like 'nothing on Earth', but we must not let our
imaginations run wild. The laws of nature impose many
constraints on the size and shape of living organisms, and even
on the social behavior of intelligent creatures.

If we wish to design a hypothetical intelligent being, where do
we start? Well, it would need a brain, and a very elaborate one
at that. Thus it will need to be big enough to support a large
brain, and this delicate organ will need some sort of
protection. How about a skill? The brain will also need sensory
inputs to tell it what is happening in the outside world. it
will need eyes, of only to avoid such disasters as falling off
cliffs or walking under buses. Yes, but would those eyes
necessarily see the same wavelengths as our eyes? Undoubtedly
so, because planetary atmospheres are most transparent to those
wavelengths which we detect as visible light. What about
'seeing' with radio waves? Well, with radio waves:

"In order to have any useful resolution - that is, detection of
fine visual detail - the effective collecting area must be
enormous. To have the same resolving power at 5cm wavelengths
that they eye has at 5000A. wavelength, an extraterrestrial
microwave 'eyeball' would have to be roughly half a mile in
diameter." (4)

We could go on to fill a full-length book with similar
arguments, but the whole question is neatly summed up in the
words of Professor M R House:

"Typical gross form associated with ecological habit for a given animal
size and mode of life, suggests that there is a 'paradigm' or theoretically
appropriate form for given circumstances, and that selection pressures tend
to work towards this by eliminating those organisms least approximating to
it". (5)

House points to various examples of evolutionary convergence
such as gross similarities between swimming reptiles, mammals
and fish, and the fact that "sabre-tooth tigers of the Tertiary,
of South Africa were marsupial mammals, whilst the present-day
tigers are placental mammals".

In other words, where there is an ecological niche it will
eventually be filled, by the processes of evolution, with the
appropriate animal or plant. Because of the natural constraints
imposed by the laws of physics and chemistry, ecological niches
on other planets must bear some resemblance to those with which
we are familiar on Earth . . .

Harney continues with speculation that extraterrestrial
intelligences would also tend to similarities in aspects of
social organization and behaviour, concluding that "they would
undoubtedly have to face and and find answers to similar
problems to ours - technical, economic, political and
philosophical".

1. Jacques Monod, 'Chance and Necessity', translated by Austryn
Wainhouse, Collins, London 1972
2. I.S.Shklovskii and Carl Sagan, 'Intelligent Life in the
Universe', Dell, NY, 1968
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. M.R.House, 'Evolution and the Fossil Record', in
'Understanding the Earth', Artemis Press/OU Press, 2nd. ed.,
1974.

It seems to me that much of Swords' speculation can be accepted
almost as a given by both ETH advocates and PSH proponents. It
has little to do with the reality of whether any potential ET
craft has ever visited this planet. For that we are inevitably
brought back to the investigation of individual cases, which
really is where we came in, with the ten or fifty, (or even one)
best cases.

John Rimmer
Magonia (still On-Line) at www.magonia.demon.co.uk
Mark Pilkington
------------------------------------------------
Magonia online

http://www.magonia.demon.co.uk