Supported by

The Atlantic Selects

We're Probably Imagining Aliens Wrong

Nov 07, 2016 | 831 videos
Video by Aeon Video

Humans have always had the impulse to cast alien life in our image, says British science writer Philip Ball. It’s a tendency that goes back centuries, and has only been propagated by modern science fiction. In this video by Adam D'Arpino for Aeon, Bell argues that this tendency could actually be limiting us in the search for aliens. “When we start speculating about what advanced extraterrestrials are like, we’re really just talking about ourselves,” he says. “Such failures of imagination can become a straightjacket for our thinking. How can we move beyond solipsism and Hollywood tropes?”

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to

Author: Nadine Ajaka

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.