This question is currently closed for lacking details. However, the details it has been accused of lacking seem suspect. Specifically, the sorts of details asked of it are facts and definitions of real-world concepts and ideas regarding the central issue

In every other question, this sort of background goes without saying: Nobody expects an explanation of physiology and biomechanics in an Anatomically Correct question, and I doubt anyone has asked for Newton's law of universal gravitation in any question regarding space and planets. Yet it is seemingly required for me to insert an encyclopedia into this question

Why is this the case? And where else will I need to include such a compendium to keep my question above board?

  • $\begingroup$ Agreed. Btw it needs just one more vote now to be reopened. $\endgroup$ May 8, 2022 at 23:48
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    $\begingroup$ You ask a hypothetical question which is highly open. It's "Can aliens be racist?" and the only thing I can think of "Why can't they be?". If you're building the world, then you can make the aliens whatever you like. If you want them to be racist - then they would be. If you want them to be beyond such things - they wouldn't. How can your question be answered definitively by anybody other than yourself? $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    May 9, 2022 at 6:14
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ Cultural ideas do not appear out of nowhere for no reason. There needs to be some reason for it to be invented and spread $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 6:45
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    $\begingroup$ And? You are making the aliens. You decide what cultural ideas they've had and developed, abandoned or embraced. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    May 9, 2022 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ So I could decide that these aliens would murder every last one of their kids and it would still be a realistic culture? $\endgroup$ May 9, 2022 at 7:21
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    $\begingroup$ It wouldn't be an existing species for long but who is to say that you are wrong? It's one way that Fermi's Paradox might be resolved. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    May 9, 2022 at 7:57
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    $\begingroup$ You answered your own question: Cultural ideas do not appear out of nowhere for no reason --- the details your question lacks are not "suspect". I didn't ask you for real world definitions. You made certain presumptions that I think require clarification. I also asked you for in-world context. You based your question about aliens on human experience. I asked you to base your question on the aliens' experience. The only way to read your question, therefore, is to assume that the aliens are, in fact, humans. Hats optional. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    May 10, 2022 at 2:42

2 Answers 2


Because your definition of "racism" was not clear, apparently

In short, you refused 2 out of 3 answers in a very short span of time, telling "it was xenophobia and not racism". If so many answers doesn't match your definition of racism, then an explanation of what you mean actually by "racism" is needed.

Going a little more in depth, now, I'll take the currently top-voted answer as a reference, which you refused since "Most of this is just xenophobia, or otherwise rather recent in history" :

Why wouldn't they be ?

If you look at human history, both present and past, racism seems to be the norm rather than the exception. See how many genocides already happened : European colons nearly wiping out Native americans and Arborigenes, Jews being persecuted, African groups preying on each other (even today).. There's even signs of that in old history (the bible) : Jews seeing Samaritans as inferior.

If this happens between members of the same species, imagine how we might perceive another completely unknown (and sentient) race! If Aliens have similar behaviour than ours, they will most certainly be racists...

Well, less importantly, we have to clarify what is "recent" for you. Antisemitism existed since the medieval crusades and perhaps even before, not far from a thousand year from today. Then and more important, if this is xenophobia, what is racism? Indeed, looking at the basic definitions on wikipedia ➡️ what most people will think about if they read the terms :

Racism is the belief that groups of humans possess different behavioral traits corresponding to inherited attributes and can be divided based on the superiority of one race over another.

As such, in the common definition antisemitism is some kind of racism ("antisemitism is a form of racism"), as much as European colonies making African human zoos. It's "just" specifically targeted against jews. You saying this is not racism sure raises an eyebrow. Or two. Or three if you're a space alien.

This misunderstanding of what you're trying to bring up is further backed-up by the definition of xenophobia:

Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange. It is an expression of perceived conflict between an ingroup and an outgroup and may manifest in suspicion by the one of the other's activities, a desire to eliminate their presence, and fear of losing national, ethnic, or racial identity.

When you're xenophobic, you have two groups of people : Yours and the "foreigners". Since you fear or hate the foreigners, you're much more likely to put more value into your group and less into the foreigners, creating an ascending superiority. It's therefore very closely related to racism, having little to set them apart (the emotionnal part or the targeted group for instance). This leads me to believe you want to set clear differences between the two terms, as opposed to what people would say in day-to-day discussions.

If the answers match the common definitions but not your definition, then there's a problem about what you mean when you tell these terms. As a consequence this means that you need to clarify the topic so everyone is on the same page.


You began your question with a false pretext

Racism, while it is widespread now, is a relatively recent invention, of which Earth's history suggests it requires certain conditions to emerge and take root.

I can only imagine people demanding that you prove that statement alone (much less others in your question). It's false. While many people today agree that Humanity, endowed with the divine gift of Reason, should be capable of rising above racism, the truth is that Humanity in specific areas (if not in every area, some ancients rose above it) has been "racist" (meaning that one group of humans discriminated against other groups of humans) since the dawn and/or creation of the species. Consequently, your question begins by causing confusion over what, exactly, you're talking about.

Technical writing Rule #1: Never assume your audience understands you

Over the years a number of people have proverbially thrown their hands in the air and said, "my question is perfectly clear, why won't you just answer it!" Unfortunately, just because it's clear to you, the author, doesn't mean it's clear to anyone else. (Worse, it may be clear to some but not to others. Worse yet, the people who believe they understand it clearly might not....)

When it comes to a hot-button subject like Racism (or any form of discrimination), the problem is multiplied a thousand-fold. Almost everybody experiences discrimination at one time or another during their lives, which means everybody thinks they understand what "racism" or "discrimination" is. In reality, there are a great many forms of racism, a great many ways racism is imposed, and a great many consequences from racism.

Which is a long way of saying almost nobody can understand what you mean if you won't take the time to be clear and specific.

To make matters worse, you're asking a rhetorical question

Can space aliens be racist? Why even bother asking the question? It's your world, if you want them to be racist, make them racist. If you don't, then don't. If you're asking the question just to ask it, then you did a poor job because you failed to meet the expectations of the Help Center. Questions...

  • Must be specific and answerable: What problem are you trying to solve?

  • Must include context: What are you trying to accomplish? Context gives people writing answers an idea of what your end state will look like and why you want to get there.

  • Must include restrictions/requirements: What will make one answer better than another? If any answer is equally effective your question is not properly constrained. How can this be executed? What tech, timeline, magic or other criteria apply to the situation.

You may not agree with my assessment, but you failed to meet all three of those requirements. Not suggestions. Not recommendations. Not guidelines... Requirements.

But to be honest, all that wasn't what made me roll my eyes the most

My question is to ask how common such racist societies might be, or specifically if they would be likely to show up at all.

Are you joking? What space-faring alien life are we supposed to use as a baseline to answer that question? If we take you at your word and treat them as "human-like," then why bother asking the question? They're as likely to be racist as Humanity.

  • $\begingroup$ meaning that one group of humans discriminated against other groups of humans So sexism is a form of racism? It's your world, if you want them to be racist, make them racist The same can be said about literally every other question on this site $\endgroup$ May 19, 2022 at 8:12
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    $\begingroup$ Sexism, like racism, is a form of discrimination. If that wasn't obvious to you, then we've found the root cause of your problem. And no, the same cannot be said about every other question on this site. Well-asked questions meet all of the identified requirements, allowing for a sensible and useful answer. You failed to meet those requirements. You've had a lot of trouble asking questions here, Ichthys, and most of the trouble stems from your unwillingness to learn how to ask a question well. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 19, 2022 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ @IchthysKing Well, not really. Asking a question is like asking what puzzle piece you need to put at some place. If you don't tell whether you've put other pieces into place (→including context), that you don't tell what the puzzle picture should be (→trying to solve a problem) nor give what kind of piece would fit in -1 hole, 2 holes, etc. - (→restrictions/requirements), how can we find this piece for you? It's part of the reason it was downvoted so much. And... the reason you refused answers straight out of the box, I believe. $\endgroup$ May 19, 2022 at 12:32
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    $\begingroup$ That's a really good metaphor, @Tortliena. The ideal question would point to a nearly completed puzzle and ask how to fill in the last one or two pieces. The worst kind of question would point to an empty table top and ask how to fill in a piece. Yeah... I like that metaphor. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    May 19, 2022 at 15:35

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