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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Mindreading: Psi and science

(Public Domain)
Before outrageous reality shows were in vogue, preachers would advise people to live their lives as if they were being televised.  This advice was meant to encourage lifestyles that could “pass inspection” – even if half the world (and all of God) were continually watching.

Although many religions assert that God is actually “watching,”
people seem nevertheless more concerned about the judgments
of their fellow humans.  They might therefore be alarmed to know that, as psi and science continue to merge, neurologists might soon be able to crack the “mindreading” code.

The term “psi” comes from the ancient Greek word psyche, which referred to a mind/soul combination.  Although some scientists have belittled the “soul” part of psyche, others have spent years trying to figure it out.  The attempt to do so has been called “parapsychology,” which Wikipedia defines as “a discipline that seeks to investigate the existence and causes of psychic abilities…” “Psychic” is further defined as “an ability to perceive information hidden from the normal senses…”

People have hidden behind their skulls throughout history, feeling “safe” in the knowledge that no one could possibly know what they’re really thinking.  Whether thoughts were as personal as “That dress is no friend of Sally’s” – or as potentially political as “The emperor isn’t wearing any clothes” – poker-faced citizens could keep their mouths shut and their privacy in tact.  For better or for worse, that privacy might soon be as vulnerable as Henry VIII’s more talkative wives.

Chalk it up to recent breakthroughs in neuroimaging interpretation (aka “thought identification” and plain old “mindreading”).  It goes like this:  Technology can now reveal and identify brain patterns that coincide with
certain thoughts, emotions, and possibly even intentions.  In 2007, The Guardian reported that a team of leading neuroscientists from top-notch institutions in Germany and England have developed a brain-scanning technique that “allows them to look deep inside a person’s brain and read their intentions before they act.”  If that weren’t scary enough, MSN Health reported in May 2011 that other scientists are using EEGs to decode brainwaves.

What’s next might make Pandora’s box look like just another Secret Santa.  At least God’s omniscience is
balanced by a mighty dose of benevolence.  Not necessarily the case with tomorrow’s technocrats…       


Copyright June 4, 2011 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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