How Do You Talk to a Kanamit?

I’ve often wondered how we’d ever really communicate with an extraterrestrial civilization. Sure, we might try to look for some sort of pattern to a radio signal or a flash of light. But how do we really have a conversation and even understand each other even if we supposedly decode such a signal?

I last thought about this while watching Season 2 of the most recent re-boot of the Twilight Zone. One of the best features of this season is an episode that is a sequel of sorts (really a bit of a re-imagining or an homage) to the original Twilight Zone’s episode “To Serve Man.” Without spoilers (at least not of the plot or “twist”, if there really is one here) there is one scene in which the Kanamit leader (or at least Chief representative on Earth) says to the protagonist ( a disaffected housewife played by Gretchen Mol) “We have been monitoring your radio signals. In 1945 the US defeated Germany. In 1965 the Beatles defeated the son of your God.” O.K, that’s mainly meant as laugh line for the over-50’s out there, but it shows how you might think you understand the aliens or the aliens might think they understand you, but how can that be possible?

I feed my cat when he meows at me incessantly, but he might be thinking “why does this guy feed me every time I try to critique Plato’s Republic? Ah, what the hell, its good food.”

And if you’re interested in these subjects….please get my book….blah….blah…blah (Physics and Astronomy of Science Fiction by Steve Bloom).

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