What is telepathy and is it possible to learn to read minds

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What is telepathy

Telepathy is called the ability to transmit thoughts from one person to another, or receive them, not recognized by official science. At the same time, any sense organs or devices are not involved in the process.

Telepathy is popular among pseudoscientists and people who admit the existence of all sorts of inexplicable phenomena. Some consider this practice to be real because they feel like they can learn about other people’s thoughts ahead of time. Some may be persuaded by the demonstration of supposedly telepathic abilities. Belief in the ability to transmit thoughts is supported by several more or less successful experiments.

For example, as early as the 1930s, classical tests were performed with Zener cards. The person had to choose one of five cards with different images, and his partner – to determine which one. Statistically, the probability of success in this case is 20%, but the participants gave the correct answers more often.

Also in the 1970s and 80s, ganzfeld experiments were carried out . For 20 minutes, the telepath had to transmit to another person thoughts about the selected image – usually one of four. After the session, the recipient of the information had to find the desired picture. The average success rate was 33%. This is more than the 25% chance of guessing the correct answer by chance.

In 2005, two experiments took place in the UK. Four and then five people sent each other emails. Each time the letter was sent by only one person. A minute before, all participants were asked to guess who exactly it would be. Correct answers were obtained in 43% and 47% of cases. Such results are much higher than the probability of a random guess.

Why telepathy doesn’t work

Some researchers believe that the existence of telepathy is proven. However, it is not. And that’s why.

Parapsychologists’ experiments don’t stand up to scrutiny by science

Attempts to repeat the experiments under strictly scientific conditions were unsuccessful. In the case of Zener cards, participants could see translucent drawings and hear the partner ‘s voice . When these shortcomings were eliminated and the experiments were repeated, the number of correct answers decreased significantly .

Ganzfeld’s experiments were also controversial. They did not exclude direct and indirect hints, and when analyzing the results, an overestimation of indicators by 2% was found.

In addition, none of these experiments used enough subjects for reliable results.

Telepaths often cheat

Specialists who supposedly know how to read minds can use figureheads and a special system of hidden signs during their sessions. And if they have to work with real strangers, the Barnum effect and cold reading come into play. Telepaths tell a person the most general information that he can take personally, monitor his reaction and correct the story on the go.

“Telepathic abilities” are easily explained by mechanisms known to science

Our perceptual system can use mirror neurons to respond to the intentions and emotions of other people. This happens unconsciously and so quickly that it seems to the person that he predicted the actions of the interlocutor, although this is not so.

If you suddenly think that a friend is about to call you, and this really happens, you should not immediately enroll yourself in the ranks of telepaths. The true nature of this “superpower” may lie in confirmation bias , a well-known cognitive bias. Its essence is that people tend to adjust the facts to fit their point of view.

False memories can also be to blame: this is when we are sure that we were thinking about something, although the thoughts appeared only after the fact. Besides, it could be just a coincidence.

Is it possible to read and transmit thoughts at all

Scientists are already learning how to do it. And there is nothing fantastic or mystical here – only science. It is enough to use the mechanism of synaptic transmission.

Its essence is as follows : during any work of the brain (from controlling the body to memories), there is a movement of chemicals in nerve cells, accompanied by small electrical flashes. These brain waves can be read using electroencephalography ( EEG ) and then converted into computer code.

Engineers and physicians, together with neuroscientists, create brain-computer and computer-brain interfaces based on the effect of synaptic transmission. They allow the power of thought to type text or use bionic prostheses.

The most interesting thing is that these technologies make it possible to transfer data between living organisms through brain-to-brain interfaces. Sending signals in this way requires transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) machines. With the help of magnetic waves, they can excite the neurons of the brain. At the same time, the technology is non-invasive, that is, it does not require the implantation of transmitters in the skull. It is enough to put on a special “hat” with electromagnets connected to a computer.

Scientists have already managed to combine the brains of two animals , a couple of people , and even the brains of a person and an animal . In the latter case, a volunteer was able to make a rat move its tail with just the power of thought.

In 2014, scientists from France, Spain and the United States transmitted information for the first time using EEG and TMS devices. Moreover, the sending and receiving test subjects were thousands of kilometers apart. The experimenters were able to transmit the words hola and ciao from France to India via the Internet. True, these were still not the words themselves, but coded light signals. The long one meant hola and the short one ciao. The transmitter saw the corresponding flashes on the screen, the technique read his nervous activity and sent the data to the receiver. Under the influence of brain stimulation, it seemed to him that he also saw these signals.

Four years later, researchers from the United States have already achieved something more. Three people, united in a “brain network” (BrainNet), played a kind of Tetris. Only one of them could rotate the pieces, but he did not see the entire playing field. Information about what to do was sent to him by two other participants: the third had the feeling that he was seeing a small luminous spot. The accuracy of task completion was more than 81%.

Of course, all this cannot yet be called real reading and transmission of thoughts. But work in this direction is underway. Perhaps someday we will really become telepaths thanks to neural interfaces .

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