HOW WIKIPEDIA PORTRAYED HUMANITY IN A SINGLE PHOTO

  Author: Ellen Airhart

How Wikipedia Portrayed Humanity in a Single Photo

An adult human male (left) and female (right) in Northern Thailand. – Manuel Jobi/Wikimedia  

In 1972, Carl Sagan was preparing to send humans into space. The Pioneer missions were unmanned, sure—but NASA had asked Sagan to design a depiction of Earth’s inhabitants for the trip, just in case the spacecraft ran across some aliens. He designed two nude figures with the help of his wife, Linda Salzman Sagan, and his friend Frank Drake. Linda drew the woman to have Asian features, and the man African, according to Carl’s memoirs—though both ended up looking suspiciously European, with haircuts characteristic of the 1970s. Not unlike Sagan himself…