A Kid Who Could Read My Mind

By Susam Pal on 03 Jul 2009

Last night, I found myself in the midst of a peculiar group of strangers. Among them was a mysterious kid who made an astonishing claim—he possessed the ability to read minds. With utter disbelief, I approached him. He covered both my ears with his palms and asked me to think of something. I thought of the number 5 and he immediately said aloud, "5". I was astonished. How could the kid read my mind? To ensure that he did not simply get lucky, I thought of another number, 7, and he immediately declared, "7". I thought of a few more numbers and he correctly announced all the numbers. I was completely bewildered. The people around were equally perplexed. They felt that both of us were working together to hoodwink others. An old man in the group who seemed intrigued by all this approached us and asked us to perform more experiments in a structured manner. He proposed that the numbers be generated using a pseudorandom number generator of a scientific calculator and written down on a paper. He asked me to silently read the numbers on each paper, then think of those numbers, and see whether the kid could then read my mind.

While he was preparing a list of random numbers, I was trying to understand how on earth the kid could be reading my mind. He could not be have got lucky every single time. He seemed to have direct access to my mind. However that would be a miracle, maybe not in future, but it is a miracle at least today in the year 2009. I kept thinking, coming up with various hypotheses, and discarding them. By sheer luck, I thought of a contraption involving one random number generator (RNG) connected to two displays. In this apparatus, the output of the RNG appeared immediately on the first display, but only after a delay of 1 second on the second display. Now it would seem that the first display was predicting the output of the second display. I continued thinking more in that direction. What could possibly be the source of the thoughts that was accessible to both?

After a little thought, it occurred to me that it could be my own mind. Probably the kid and the people I could see were simply creations of my mind. Perhaps, I was asleep and dreaming. I wanted to test the hypothesis. If it was only a dream and my mind was creating all the experience, I should have been able to read the minds of others. I had no clue how the experience of reading others' minds would feel like but I went ahead to test the hypothesis. I asked another person to be a volunteer. He agreed. I covered his ears with my palms and asked him to think of a number and suddenly the number "17" echoed in my mind. I was thrilled. I asked him whether "17" was the number. He confirmed that it was indeed the number he had thought of.

Unfortunately, I could not stay in this state of lucid dream for long. I woke up soon after realising that I was in a lucid dream. If you find lucid dreaming intriguing I recommend Waking Life to you, a very thought provoking movie that shows the experience of a man trapped in a persistent lucid dream state.

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