By Zap Waggler, Proboscis interplanetary correspondent
HIGH EARTH ORBIT, EARTH—After struggling for millennia to rise out of the evolutionary soup and take its rightful place as the most advanced species on the planet earth, the human race has been dealt a stunning blow this week, as the alien anthropologists secretly studying us have downgraded the human race from ‘sentient’ to ‘semi-sentient’.
“The human race is remarkably resilient and adaptable,” says Zax Chabazz, a Betelgeusian cultural anthropologist, “and at times is capable of brilliance. This species has colonized every corner of its habitat, developed advanced societies, split the atom, even reached space. And yet, recently we’ve seen troubling signs of de-evolution. After paying close attention to the leadership selection process of the nation-state known as America, we have no choice but to downgrade humanity from full sentience.”
The alien scientists use a complex rubric to determine where a species falls onthe ten-point sentience scale, zero being “gravel”, and ten being, “controls space-time with power of mind.” Up until recently, human beings were safely at a seven out of ten, due to our scientific accomplishments, progress towards peaceful conflict resolution, and the fact that we discovered atomic bombs nearly a century ago and still haven’t annihilated ourselves. Some scientists have argued that humankind’s continued insistence on destroying its own habitat, despite being fully aware of the consequences, earns earth’s inhabitants a lower rating on the Galactic Sentience Index. But we’ve been able to hang onto our classification, until this week.
Says Zax, “Humanity’s sentience rating was always heavily debated in the alien scientific community. But with these recent developments, we have no choice. Determining leadership by comparing the size of reproductive organs. Selection of leader with loudest mating call and most frightening plumage. Selection of leader who incites followers to violence against arbitrary or convenient enemies. Failure to learn painful lessons from recent history. These criteria are not debatable. These are absolutely diagnostic of lower sentience. Therefore, in the next edition of the Catalogue of Galactic Species, humankind will be downgraded from seven: “self-aware, capable of self-reflection, abstract thought, and impulse control” to six: “does not shit on self most of the time.”
This new classification still puts us ahead of baboons, squirrels, and lobsters, but behind German shepherds and seagulls.
For the time being, humanity remains at six. “However,” says Zax, “we are concerned that humankind could de-evolve further. A number of my colleagues are convinced that the American leadership candidates will soon start throwing their own feces at each other, at which point another downgrade will be unavoidable.”
While a lower sentience rating does make additional galactic subsidies available to humankind, it also makes the species legal to hunt for sport or culinary purposes.