They’re Made Out of Meat!

“They’re Made Out of Meat” is a short story by Terry Bisson. It’s a great riff on the improbability of the human situation, and particularly relevant to psychologists (e.g. “So … what does the thinking?”) The full text is here. The story has its own wikipedia page, and there’s a YouTube film here. Now, for your listening delight Erin Revell and Geraint Edwards, at my request, have recorded the story so I can play parts of it during a lecture. The result was too good not to share, so with Terry Bisson’s permission, here’s a link for the whole thing:

Terry Bisson’s “They’re Made Out of Meat”

(Cross posted at


  1. Posted July 7, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    That’s fantastic! I love the disdain they manage to get into the word “meat”.

    You might find my latest post on Wiring the Brain interesting as it’s on the same subject:

  2. Posted July 7, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

    This is so great. I’ve been jumping from video to video on YouTube. Fascinating!

  3. kat
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    hey tom, i think you may have bungled an italic tag or something in this post… everything after this post is in italics (:

    also, this has to be one of my favorite science fiction pieces! i’ll check out the film and audio.

  4. Tom stafford
    Posted July 7, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Thanks Kat, I had got a loose italics tag. Fixed now!

  5. Emmy
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 2:12 am | Permalink

    Nice. Also a bit depressing. But I like the lightness of the story. The aliens seemed quite philosophical as well.

    Not very good *tasting* meat, I suppose. Since sharks spit us out most of the time. It reminded me of Gigorota on Lexx who would call people “a waste of skin”.

  6. Wednesday
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    I loved the ending! “Imagine how unbearably, how unutterably cold the Universe would be if one were all alone…” And that’s exactly what they just did to the meat.

  7. Neuronurd
    Posted July 10, 2011 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    I have decided that this video will be the litmus test for whom I can be friends with. If they don’t find this funny and/or clever, we can’t be friends. My early 20’s daughter didn’t get it and didn’t understand why I was laughing. Sad.

    • anthony
      Posted July 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      she should be disowned with little hesitation. That was one funny video.

      • Neuronurd
        Posted July 20, 2011 at 4:25 am | Permalink

        I tried to disown her and she won’t leave me alone. She just keeps telling me how mean I am. How do I get rid of her?

    • femi
      Posted April 28, 2012 at 2:21 am | Permalink

      I can only suspect that’s partly because you haven’t done your bit and partly the fact that it takes time the brain to grow into such reasoning

  8. Rich
    Posted July 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Should “a great rift of” be “a great riff on” or is this a new phrase I’ve failed to pick up?

    • tomstafford
      Posted July 20, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      Thanks – corrected!

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