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telepathy replies - Dan Goodman's journal
March 10th, 2015
02:25 pm


telepathy replies
stardreamer replied to your Dreamwidth entry (http://dsgood.dreamwidth.org/161430.html) in which you said:

"If we could all read each other's minds, we would understand and love each other. And it would be wonderful to always know what everyone around us was thinking. Theodore Sturgeon loved this idea, as did some other science fiction writers.

"It seems to have gone out of style. I suspect the Internet has something to do with this. Imagine having a direct-to-brain Twitter feed, with no way of turning it off.

"If that doesn't make you uneasy, think about unstoppable access to erotic daydreams -- most of which bore you. To memories of eating foods you dislike, from people whose sense of taste is stronger than yours. To badly plotted nightmares."

And then there was Poul Anderson's "Journeys End" (yes, the title is spelled correctly). He made pretty much the same point you do here, on a more personal level.

[From another angle; having corners of your mind uncovered which you'd far rather were left unseen.]

Every workable fictional implementation of telepathy I've ever seen came with the assumption that you also had SHIELDS -- that you didn't have to listen to every thought of everybody for miles around, or project your thoughts to them.

[Partial exception: Clifford Simak, Time is the Simplest Thing. The Pinkness (a nonhuman) has a standard greeting: "I trade with you my mind." The Pinkness absorbs your mind, and gives you its mind; including everything it's gotten from other telepathic explorers. And like many clutterers, The Pinkness is disorganized.]

don_fitch (don_fitch) replied to your LiveJournal post (http://dsgood.livejournal.com/1300258.html):

What on earth caused you to posit that "If we could all read each other's minds, we would understand and love each other"?

[I didn't. Theodore Sturgeon did; see To Marry Medusa (aka The Cosmic Rape). So did other sf writers.]

I see no reason not to think that we'd do pritty much as we do now -- love a few people, hate a few people, and feel varying degrees of liking and disliking most, with a lot of "bleh" in the middle. With that telepathy we'd select our targets more accurately, probably, but I don't think the numbers would be much different .... it's a matter of how many people & personal interactions of some intensity any given individual can cope with.

[In the long run. In the short term? Some people would be disconcerted to learn that most others didn't consider them worth plotting against, to begin with. People born after the change wouldn't have major problems; but older people would.]

I'm terrible about remembering Examples, but I think the more thoughtful s-f writers who dealt with this idea made a major point of the fact that everyone had to be able to control both their sending and their receiving. Otherwise, as you imply, the Talent would result in insanity.

[In Sturgeon's To Marry Medusa, and some of his other stories, there wasn't any control. And everyone lived happily ever after.]

(Geeze, even Marion Zimmer Bradley got that one right, and Marion was no great shakes at either Logic or Science, though she was probably the best practitioner of the ancient tradition of Oral Storytelling in the genre until Anne McCaffrey came along..)

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