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I'm trying to find a short story that I read years ago that talks about how weird the human race is and satirizes things like going to the dentist. The narrator may be an alien anthropologist.

I don't think the reader realizes the account is about humans until the end of the short story.

Any idea what I'm talking about?

  • 1
    Can you give any more details about the story? How long ago did you read it? – user14111 Mar 3 '15 at 21:12
  • I know of this, which is similar to what you're talking about, but it's specifically about American culture (it's not about humans in general) in the style of an anthropological paper. Is it what you're talking about? – cpast Mar 3 '15 at 21:37
  • Were humans weird because they are talking meat? – user16696 Mar 3 '15 at 22:36
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    sounds like Made out of Meat story: terrybisson.com/page6/page6.html – Simon O'Doherty Oct 21 '15 at 6:54
  • Type "Humans are the weird ones" into Google. That's what you are after. You may have to shop around to find the story you are after. – Gideon Aug 14 '17 at 23:06
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I'm not aware of something exactly like what you describe, but it sounds similar to the Body Ritual Among the Nacirema by Horace Miner: a satire of anthropology describing specifically American (spell "Nacirema" backwards) culture in the style of anthropological papers (Miner was an anthropologist himself). The main difference is that it's not about humans in general through alien eyes; it's more about how anything can be described in a way that makes it seem strange or magical, if you don't have the full context of the culture.

One paragraph from the book, specifically about dentists:

In the hierarchy of magical practitioners, and below the medicine men in prestige, are specialists whose designation is best translated as "holy-mouth-men." The Nacirema have an almost pathological horror of and fascination with the mouth, the condition of which is believed to have a supernatural influence on all social relationships. Were it not for the rituals of the mouth, they believe that their teeth would fall out, their gums bleed, their jaws shrink, their friends desert them, and their lovers reject them. They also believe that a strong relationship exists between oral and moral characteristics. For example, there is a ritual ablution of the mouth for children which is supposed to improve their moral fiber.

  • That was my immediate thought as well. – fectin Jan 23 '17 at 13:50
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Youth (Isaac Asimov short story)

None of the characters are given names, or physical descriptions until the very end. All the adults, including the two humans, are known by their professions, and the two young aliens are known by their nicknames.

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    Is there anything in "Youth" about "how weird humans are" or "going to the dentist"? Is it narrated by an "alien anthropologist"? It does match "the reader doesn't realize the account is about humans until the end" but that describes a lot of stories. – user14111 Oct 21 '15 at 6:17
  • There is quite a lot in it about how weird (and ugly) humans are. Given that it seems likely that the original questioner may have been conflating the Horace Miner piece mentioned in the answer by "cpast" with some other story about humans in general, "Youth" could conceivably be the other story. – Lostinfrance Oct 21 '15 at 9:33

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