Adventures in Mind Reading

mind-reading-darpa

When I was younger, my dream was to be able to fly. In fact, I would listen to “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly on repeat and pretend I was a part of the choir soaring away into the horizon. Instead of channeling the Wright brothers to fly, I had made up my mind on R. Kelly. Go figure.

Since flying proved to be difficult, my next muse was Storm. I would run around leaf piles in my yard during autumn and wave my arms like I was controlling the wind. Granted, I probably looked more like Pocahontas than Halle Berry with her sassy white tresses, but at the moment I completely didn’t care because I felt like this:

storm1

Boom. Boom. Pow.

Now that I’m older, I’ve come to realize that I developed a superpower and I didn’t even know it. My days of play acting Storm’s powers went to actually living Emma Frost’s.

I just read people’s minds whenever I wanted.

At first, this wasn’t a problem. I’d be in casual conversation and just happen to notice/anticipate that the person I was speaking with needed coffee. So I’d suggest that we get coffee, they’d relax more and say it’s just what they needed.

Then it started getting weird. Soon, alternate endings and possibilities for conversations plagued me. I was automatically anticipating other people’s needs while I was talking to them, which is basically a gateway to the underpinnings of codependent behavior. It got even worse when I discovered the gift of gab plus listening. The gift of gab plus listening is actually worse than the gift of gab because you actually absorb what people are saying, so it makes you gab more. This has gotten me into more trouble than I’d thought possible and one reason is because I’m horrible at ending conversations. The people that I meet must have a similar problem because many times I’ve found that I’ve only intended to talk to a person for a minute and I’ll be there for ten.

Finally, I was talking to my grandmother one day (always have an old wise woman in your life, they drop knowledge all the time) and she pointed, actually shouted, it out.

“Child, you need to stop reading people’s minds.”

But doesn’t reading minds require predicting the future or a bit more psychic energy than the nil I was currently producing?

Nope, I was better than Miss Cleo.

(For those who need to refresh their memory or experience the craziness that was Miss Cleo.)

If you separate mind reading from psychic behavior, it’s actually pretty annoying and boring. There is not even an illusion of mystery to people anymore, you find out things that you don’t even want to know, and pretty soon the other person’s thoughts are subtly dictating your actions. This actually made me feel a lot better about how intense mind reading was at one point. Apparently people do it all the time and mind sight, or empathic accuracy, is really just a combination of reading body language and perceiving thoughts and emotions while concealing them or catching them if necessary.

Drawing on a databank of memories and observations to make educated guesses about what other people are thinking and feeling is fascinating from a sociology aspect. People have developed this and it’s actually unobtrusive, but also very intrusive at the same time. The fact that it just happens all the time without consciously realizing that you’re doing it is the fascinating part. I found it interesting that strangers can read each other with 20 percent accuracy because close friends and married couples read each other at 35 percent. Almost no one scores higher than 60 percent according to William Ickes, who is one of the pioneers of empathic accuracy.

Thankfully, I’m now proud to say that I no longer have this superpower to a heavy degree, which gives me more time to focus on other superpowers.

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