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Real Aliens - crop CIRCLES symbols part 4


Not knowing the language need not impede understanding its shape and general characteristics. Such research could yield one great practical benefit down the road: upon receiving a Rosetta Stone, we would then be able to learn and read the language that much more quickly, perhaps well enough to begin using it ourselves. In the touchy and uncertain days immediately following real aliens contact, such an advantage might be very welcome indeed. This makes it all the more imperative to facilitate re- search with an effective network of data distribution.


Figuring out what the grammar's shapes represent (if grammar it is, of course) will be tough, because the formations appear to lack all social context. There is no "Rosetta Stone" permitting them to be compared to a known symbol system; there are no objects helpfully put next to them to show what they depict or schematize; there are no appreciative real aliens enti- ties in view admiring them as art. Quite the contrary, they are placed wordlessly (so to speak) on this planet's largest equivalent of a blank, lined sheet of paper. But we should try. We can attempt to restore the context, or at least make one. Our guesses might be correct.


But a worrying philosophical issue intrudes here. Let us say we guess a message--a meaning--and find out that the circles transmit it. Can we be sure that we have truly decoded the circles? Perhaps not. Humans are infinitely resourceful at seeing patterns that are not there. Edward R. Tufte, in his engaging book "Envisioning Information", reprints a picture of a rock in southern Massachusetts which is covered with ancient hieroglyphs.15 Next to the picture he reproduces ten hand-drawn sketches of the markings, made between 1680 and 1854. Not only are the sketches strikingly different, but different scholars have triumphantly adduced totally different origins for the glyphs: Scythian, Phoenician, Runic, Viking, and Algonquin, to name a few. Tufte cheerfully damns this as "scholarship of wishful thinking" (73).


I am not sure if there is any way to solve the problem, other than asking the circlemakers what they mean (and even that might not help as much as we think it would.) My reaction is just to say, "Let us see what we can guess and find, then see which guess convinces the most people, and deal with the philosophical problems as they arise."

Michael Chorost

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