Zoo Humans

Seeing the news of the uncontacted Amazon tribe, and the fact that there are both more of them than I might have imagined had I even considered the possibility of it being non-zero, and that lack of contact is carefully maintained, that gave me pause.

In short: Why?

Why hide from them the current nature of the world and level of civilization, and presumed benefits thereof? Why treat them, if effect, as remote zoo animals, or subhumans not worthy of joining the rest of us?

Arguments could be made the other way, and I might even buy them. It just struck me as a conceited “we know what’s best for your little minds and your little lives” attitude. And if that’s what we’re doing, making an intentional overflight feels like taunting.

Perhaps they’re quite happy, content not knowing better. Perhaps we’d all be. Perhaps some of what bothers me is a commonality with the atavistic death cult pastoralism of the environmentalist fringe. Perhaps many of us imagine a simple life as superior, shades of the desire for the comet to hit and free us from modernity explored in Lucifer’s Hammer.

Most of all, I am fascinated that these people even exist. The pristine primatives, not the modern freaks who want us all to go backward… with them at the top of the hierarchy they would impose.

Food for thought.

1 Comment

  1. Tenar Darell

    Yes, it is paternalistic to not reveal the truth to these people. However, historically, we know we’ve rarely gotten these things right. I believe an excess of caution is warranted before taking any action that is irrevocable. Even if this means “protecting the tribes’ habitat” from loggers’ intrusions.

    Using a shared metaphor…the “Prime Directive” became a science fiction trope because of our own history. Yes, everyone forgets aliens are alien; human history and sociology will be inadequate guides to first contact with aliens. They are, however, good guides to first contacts between humans.

    First, there is the danger of our very common diseases, which we know can be deadly to isolated populations. Then there is a great deal of historical and current evidence that so called ‘primitive’ human cultures can suffer greatly when contacted by more complex ‘advanced’ cultures. (There are aspects of American culture that are corrosive to more traditional cultures. Heck, there are even groups of people in this country who pretend it is still 1950, or even 1850 in order to deal with daily life).

    And don’t forget, they know we’re watching. Our giant angry birds have already flown over them many times. So, I don’t think we can “protect” them forever; eventually, something will happen to accidentally, yet truly, reveal the outside world to these tribes. But, I do think a great deal of care, and study, should occur before actual contact.


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