The Parable of the Them


© by Lawrence Turner, 1975, 2003



Once upon a time on a large planet circling a medium size star in a remote arm of a rather ordinary galaxy, the inhabitants (three-eyed monsters or them for short) became curious about the other planets of their solar system. They speculated at great lengths about the possibility of life and, after many periods of revolution of their world, decided to explore the third planet of the system, one with great amounts of liquid water.

So with a huge expenditure of time and energy, they built a spacecraft capable of carrying a crew of three them on a most fantastic journey. With great fanfare the ship was launched. Its five-year mission—to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and strange civilizations, to boldly go where no them has gone before!

After much time in space the craft settled into orbit about the third rock from the sun and intensive observations began. To the surprise of the thems, it was discovered that life existed on the planet—advanced life capable of building cities and great structures. The creatures were not like any of the inhabitants of the them's world. They had four limbs. of which two were used for locomotion, and a rather small head.

The thems debated as to whether they should contact the organisms and, after much discussion, decided to send down one of their number in the shuttle craft for a period of one-half of the rotation of the planet. They picked a teeming metropolis whose name has now been forgotten by history.

With great excitement the craft with the lone them descended into a large clear space near the center of the city. He emerged and as his weight settled onto the surface, uttered those immortal words: "That is one small step for a them, and one giant leap for themkind."

The them immediately set about to observe the rather strange looking creatures around him. They called themselves men or persons (by the higher frequency voiced members). With a very short time to gather data about their life, the them began immediately to take measurements.

He observed that the men came in a range of sizes. As a proper scientist, he carefully determined the height and weight of those around him as he explored the city. When he plotted these values on a diagram, he discovered a very interesting correlation.

H-W Diagram - total


Almost 80% of all men were in the upper-right hand end of this H-W diagram. The them called this region the Man Sequence. However, the them discovered that in certain areas of the city the distribution was considerably different. In one part were many smaller men in an open area near a large structure in great activity with rolling, bouncing spheres. With the predominately small creatures there were a few larger ones. The distribution at one such area was:

H-W Diagram - area 1


In another region of the city were men making strange marks in large books, manipulating electronic devices by stroking a set of buttons with the 10 small appendages at the ends of their upper limbs, and exchanging pieces of green paper and disk shaped pieces of metal. Here the distribution was:

H-W Diagram - area 2


A more detailed analysis revealed there there seemed to be two distinct populations of the men. There was a group that in general was lighter and shorter and was characterized by layers of metallic oxides on their visible surfaces and emitted higher frequency sound waves. This group, the them termed Population I. The other group was heavier and taller on average and emitted lower pitched sound. This group, he called Population II. Of course just what these differences meant or were due to, the them did not have the time to form a hypothesis.

H-W Diagram - populations


It was with great sadness that the them returned to his craft and left the blue, brown, and white world. During the time there, he did not observe any of the inhabitants change, yet he was convinced that the differences in the various H-W diagrams were due to natural life processes. The them did not understand the life processess of men. There was no reason to expect all creatures to live, to change, and to die in the same pattern. Indeed, a H-W diagram of his own species would be quite different. A them was hatched from a large egg-like structure at essentially full-size. It would lose height and weight as various appendages would be broken off and the stored energy in its body was used for metabolic purposes.