Telepathy  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Telepathy (from the Greek τηλε, tele meaning "distant" and πάθη, pathe meaning "affliction, experience"), is the induction of mental states from one mind to another. The term was coined in 1882 by the classical scholar Fredric W. H. Myers, a founder of the Society for Psychical Research, and has remained more popular than the more-correct expression thought-transference. Many studies seeking to detect, understand, and utilize telepathy have been done within this field. The scientific community does not regard telepathy as a real phenomenon as actual telepathy has never been demonstrated to a greater degree than pure chance under controlled experimental conditions.

Telepathy is a common theme in modern fiction and science fiction, with many superheroes and supervillains having telepathic abilities. In more recent times, neuroimaging has allowed researchers to actually perform early forms of mind reading.

In popular culture

Telepathy is commonly used in fiction, with a number of superheroes and supervillains, as well as figures in many science fiction novels, etc., use telepathy. Notable fictional telepaths include the Jedi in Star Wars. The mechanics of telepathy in fiction vary widely. Some fictional telepaths are limited to receiving only thoughts that are deliberately sent by other telepaths, or even to receiving thoughts from a specific other person. For example, in Robert A. Heinlein's 1956 novel Time for the Stars, certain pairs of twins are able to send telepathic messages to each other. In A. E. van Vogt's science fiction novel Slan, the mutant hero Jommy Cross can read the minds of ordinary humans. Some telepaths can read the thoughts only of those they touch, such as Vulcans in the Star Trek media franchise and Aro, a vampire in Stephenie Meyer's book New Moon. Star Trek science consultant and writer André Bormanis, has revealed that telepathy within the Star Trek universe works via the "psionic field." According to Bormanis, a psionic field is the "medium" through which unspoken thoughts and feelings are communicated through space. Some humanoids can tap into this field through a kind of sense organ located in the brain; in the same manner that human eyes can sense portions of the electromagnetic field, telepaths can sense portions of the psionic field. In the book "Eragon", Eragon can communicate through his mind with almost anyone, including his dragon Saphira, but it is possible to block people from your mind with a barrier.In the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, telepathy is a magical skill known as Legilimency. In the John Wyndham novel The Chrysalids, the main character and narrator David Strorm is one of a group of nine telepaths. In Anthony Horowitz's Power of Five series twins Jamie and Scott Tyler were born with telepathic powers that enable them to read people's minds and, ultimately, control them. They always know each other's thoughts, which earns them money doing tricks at a circus in Reno, Nevada, USA.

Some writers view telepathy as the evolutionary destiny of humanity. In Tony Vigorito's novel, Just a Couple of Days, telepathy emerges across the entire human species as a result of the Pied Piper Virus, which inadvertently eliminates humanity's symbolic capacity. In this instance, telepathy is seen as a latent ability that emerges only when the distractions of language are bypassed.

Some fictional telepaths possess mind control abilities, which can include "pushing" thoughts, feelings, or hallucinatory visions into the mind of another person, causing pain, paralysis, or unconsciousness, altering or erasing memories, or completely taking over another person's mind and body (similar to spiritual possession). Examples of this type of telepath include Professor Xavier, Psylocke, Jean Grey, Emma Frost, and numerous other characters in the Marvel Universe, along with Matt Parkman from the television series Heroes.

The radio crimefighter The Shadow had "the power to cloud men's minds," which he used to mask his presence from others.

The film Scanners concerns around people born with this kind of telepathy as well as those with telekinetic abilities.

The Urdu novel "Devta" is based on the character of Farhad Ali Taimur, a telepath involved in the fight of good and evil.

Technological enabled mental connections (occasionally seen as a form of 'telepathy' as in the following section, but not usually described using this word) are also present in science fiction, often involving the usage of neural implants of some description. For example, Robert Silverberg's 1971 story Tower of Glass features a technology called a "shunt room" where participants wearing "shunt helmets" are able to probe one another's thoughts, feelings and memories. Another example is the Conjoiners in the Revelation Space series by Alastair Reynolds. Conjoiners rely on their technological telepathy (referred to by them as "Transenlightenment") to the extent that they no longer actually speak. Certain Conjoiners are able to read, attack and control the minds of other Conjoiners and machines (though not standard humans) using digital attacks, often having similar effects to other telepaths in fiction. More generally, the concept of technological mental connections quite often features in science fiction stories featuring group minds, such as the Borg in Star Trek.

See also a composite list of fictional characters with telepathy.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Telepathy" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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