Can we read other people's minds?

Let's think of a person who thinks about something completely random, and like waving a hand, another person can guess what the other person is thinking. Few scientists have any…

Let’s think of a person who thinks about something completely random, and like waving a hand, another person can guess what the other person is thinking. Few scientists have any faith in mind reading, but through experiments it may have been possible to measure mind reading in the brain.

Some theories are so speculative that conventional scientists dismiss them entirely. Scientific methods will be used here to distinguish fraud from science.

Mother and daughter sit facing each other, separated by a low partition. They can look at each other’s eyes but not at each other’s hands. The mother takes a card from a deck, looks at the symbol which is a square and draws the symbol on a slip of paper.


Next she looks into her daughter’s eyes and when the daughter is asked what card her mother drew, she answers without hesitation: “a square”.


The experiment is repeated 25 times, and although it is possible to choose five different symbols, she answers correctly in all cases except once. Statistically speaking, it is impossible that it is pure luck, and for the trick the scholars conclude that the daughter can read her mother’s thoughts.


This experiment was conducted in Italy in 2018, but like many other experiments in the field of mind reading, it did not convince many scientists.


Critics consider the experiment to have been poorly implemented and say it opens up all kinds of scams. Above all, they seek an explanation of how thoughts should be able to pass from one person to another.


However, the phenomenon cannot be completely dismissed.


If the Canadian psychologist Michael Persinger is anything to go by, it is possible to measure the activity in a special part of the brain every time the mind reader can correctly perceive and seems to have received the other party’s thoughts.


Facial expressions appear about the correct answer

Mind reading, or telepathy, is the branch of occult psychology that deals with special psychic abilities that some people are said to possess.


Occult psychology also includes the ability to move objects with mental energy, as well as clairvoyance, which refers to the ability to predict the non-verbal. Scientists have actually shown the greatest interest in mind reading.


One of the most famous mind readers in history was the American JB Rhine who is also considered to be the founder of occult psychology.


He carried out various researches until his death in 1980, where he, among other things, experimented with the so-called Zener cards, which he said revealed that mind-reading could indeed be supported.

American psychologist JB Rhine conducted many mind reading experiments but was criticized for allowing participants to cheat.

The cards were named after the German psychologist Karl Zener, who designed them in the 1940s. Each deck consisted of 25 cards with five different symbols so that each symbol appeared on five cards.

The participants were supposed to draw one card, look at it and think about the symbol. The mind reader cannot see the image on the card, but instead must try to read the mind of the person drawing the card and guess what symbol the card shows.

When there are only five symbols, there is a 20% chance that the mind reader will get it right by chance.

Other researchers criticized the experiment.

What they found most critical was that the experimenter and the mind reader were usually in the same room, which made it possible for them to make mistakes or outright cheat. The experimenter could, for example, slowly grimace or make a sound that could give the mind reader an indication of the correct answer, whether that was the intention or not.

These sources of error are called “perceptual” and by that we mean that the mind reader can see, hear or otherwise sense the correct answer without mind reading being involved.

In another experiment, a person draws cards with symbols printed on them, while another person sitting behind a partition has to guess the symbols.

The experiments of JB Rhines and other scientists have also been criticized for the fact that the statistical analysis of the results was scarce.

When there are only five symbols, there is a 20% chance that the mind reader will get it right by chance, and if he can come up with the right answer more than 20% of the time, scientists assume that the explanation must lie in mind reading.

However, this conclusion should not be drawn without warning. For example, JB Rhine did not always return cards that had already been drawn back into the deck, and with that, the odds naturally changed.

It should also be noted that experiments with mind reading have not been carried out often enough to rule out that the correct answers are rooted in pure luck.

In addition to this, most attempts at mind reading involve a fundamental weakness.

Science Experiment: Many experiments were sloppily executed

In order to prove that mind reading is feasible, researchers need to be aware of the statistics and the possibility of cheating. Few of the experiments meet these requirements and, as a result, the phenomenon is not considered to have been scientifically proven.

Statistics: The experiments were not repeated enough times

When so-called Zener cards are used, there is a 20% chance of a correct answer, but even if the mind reader performs better, it may be written by chance. If the experiments are to be significant, they must be repeated many times.

Expectation effect: Scientists see what they expect to see

In a typical experiment, the mind reader has to reproduce another’s drawing. All drawings, however, involve ordinary geometric shapes, and scientists take the risk of letting their expectations run wild and interpreting the shapes as mind reading.

Cheating: The mind reader can sneak peeks

Correct answers are not necessarily rooted in mind reading because it is possible that the mind reader is cheating. The mind reader may be able to see cards reflected in the experimenter’s glasses or observe hand movements as the subject draws.

Scientists usually prefer that experiments be based on precise theories about the activities that are supposed to take place in experiments, but scholars in the field of mind reading have very rarely been able to provide any explanation as to how mind reading should take place. This makes it difficult to assess whether the results are related to mind reading in any way at all.

The late psychologist Michael Persinger may have found a sort of scientific explanation for mind reading in his research that involves correlating mind reading with brain scans.

A special brain center lit up

Persinger conducted the following experiment at Laurentian University in Canada in 2009.

Ten people sat in front of mind reader Sean Harribance and showed him pictures of a close relative, partner or friend while they thought about that person’s personality traits and special qualities.

Harribance did not know the people in the pictures, but nevertheless had to describe their personalities as well as he could.

  • Name

Michael Persinger, psychologist

Born in 1945, died in 2018.

  • Job title

Professor at Laurentian University in Canada.

  • Researches

Persinger took brain scans that explained mind-reading and other occult psychic phenomena by producing very faint magnetization in the brain’s temporal lobes. However, other scientists failed to replicate his experiments.

In all the experiments, 19 electrodes were placed in the mind reader’s helmet to measure the electrical activity in his brain. When Persinger looked at the measurement results, a clear pattern emerged.

Every time Harribance got his description of the stranger in the picture right, the activity in a small, defined area deep inside his right hemisphere increased.

This area is called the right cingulate cortex, and Persinger suggested that the brain’s mind-reading takes place there when we succeed in mind-reading.

If mind transference expert Michael Persinger is anything to go by, a certain area in the mind reader’s brain lights up when he answers correctly.

Other researchers, like Michael Persinger, have tried to give more weight to the debate about mind reading by linking the phenomenon to studies of brain activity.

A study led by theoretical physicist Giulio Ruffini at the Starlab Research Center in Barcelona may provide an answer to how mind reading can increase activity in a specific part of the brain.

Transferred flare vision

In a 2014 experiment, Ruffini and his colleagues had subjects look into a bright flash of light.

Moments later, Ruffini was able to apply electrodes to the scalp to record brain waves generated in the participants’ brains when the flash appeared to them and had spread through the skull.

The researchers were then able to transform the escaped brain waves into a magnetic field applied to the scalp of another experiment participant.

The magnetic field involuntarily moved through the skull and into the brain where it triggered brain activity in the visual centers and caused that person to also see a bright flash of light

All the scientists had to do was convert the brain waves into a magnetic field and transfer it from one scalp to another.

With the help of the researchers, the first participant’s visual effects had now moved out through the skull and into the second participant’s skull, where they unleashed visual effects of a similar flare.

In other words, a real mind transfer had taken place. All the scientists had to do was convert the brain waves into a magnetic field and transfer it from one scalp to another. The very sensation of spotting a bright flash was thus transferred from one brain to the other.

Statement: Thoughts are transmitted from one brain to another

Experiments have revealed that it is possible to transfer thoughts between people with special equipment. However, scientists do not know a single explanation of how thoughts can move from one to another.

Proven: Brain waves send thoughts out of the skull

When a certain person thinks, moves or perceives something, an electrical signal is generated in his brain. The nerve impulses create simultaneous faint fluctuations in the brain’s electrical voltage, which electrodes on the outside of the skull can measure.

Proven: Magnetism transfers thoughts to another

The brain waves can be converted into a powerful magnetic field that is sent into the brain of another person. The magnetism affects the activity in certain brain areas and can make the person experience exactly the same as the previous one.

Improbable: Thoughts flutter in the air

Unlike radio waves, brain waves cannot travel long distances. As a result, it is unlikely that they can be transmitted directly from person to person, but if they were, they would have to be transformed into a magnetic field to affect the recipient’s brain.

The experiment indicates that the idea of thought transfer is not out of thin air and that it is possible to transfer thoughts from one person to another in a natural way using electromagnetic waves emitted by the brain.

Scientists have not really been able to explain how such a transfer from one to another could happen by itself, but the hypothesis is that it was a kind of waves when the daughter in the Italian study guessed what card her mother had drawn.

However, the critical voices believe that it is more likely that the woman read facial expressions or listened to what was written on the paper when the mother wrote down which symbol she had drawn.

For the test, the experiment was repeated with a taller partition that prevented the women from making eye contact, as well as a tablet that made no sound when the mother recorded the symbols with her finger.

Now the results suddenly became completely different. Now the daughter was only able to get it right five times out of 25, which is exactly the result that would be expected statistically in the case of lone guesses.

The only question now is whether a higher partition and a silent tablet suppressed the “waves of thought” between mother and daughter or just prevented them from sending each other secret messages.

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