But how, in essence, from the unprejudiced viewpoint of a Martian did Man differ from other earthly animals? Would a race that could levitate (and God knows what else) be impressed by engineering? And if so, would the Aswan Dam, or a thousand miles of coral reef, win first prize? Man’s self-awareness? Sheer local conceit; the upstate counties had not reported, for there was no way to prove that sperm whales or giant sequoias were not philosophers and poets far exceeding any human merit.
There was one field in which man was unsurpassed; he showed unlimited ingenuity in devising bigger and more efficient ways to kill off, enslave, harass, and in all ways make an unbearable nuisance of himself to himself. Man was his own grimmest joke on himself.
Stranger In A Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein