I've been looking all morning for a short story or essay I read in high school. The writing was overly detailed and abstract describing these 'things' you thought to be aliens by their odd behavior, but the end reveals they are actually humans.

  • 3
    When were you in high school? Knowing when the story came out (or at least how old it has to be) helps a lot but we have no way to know how old you are :D
    – Catija
    Jul 19, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    I've seen this theme done a number of times. Most recently the Planet Construction Kit did it as an example of how we over-explain things in science fiction.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Jul 19, 2016 at 14:46
  • it wasn't told from a alien perceptive was it? I recall reading a story where the set up is an astronaut is exploring a ruined civilization that turns out to be human!
    – AidanO
    Jul 19, 2016 at 14:59

1 Answer 1


Possibly Body Ritual Among the Nacirema

Story about an anthropologist studying strange beings who turn out to be human, it's a common read in high school and intro uni courses.

The focal point of the shrine is a box or chest which is built into the wall. In this chest are kept the many charms and magical potions without which no native believes he could live. These preparations are secured from a variety of specialized practitioners. The most powerful of these are the medicine men, whose assistance must be rewarded with substantial gifts. However, the medicine men do not provide the curative potions for their clients, but decide what the ingredients should be and then write them down in an ancient and secret language. This writing is understood only by the medicine men and by the herbalists who, for another gift, provide the required charm.

You can read it here.

  • Well, more-specifically, they turn out to be "americaN".
    – Josh
    Jul 19, 2016 at 18:55
  • True, this may be too specific, but there aren't any other answers so I thought I'd take a shot at it
    – nexus_2006
    Jul 20, 2016 at 2:18

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