Thoughts are supernatural

Why mind reading doesn't work

Myths

Who does not know them, the secretive telepaths. "Star Trek", "The X Files" and much more from the realm of the imagination would lose a lot without the admired and sometimes feared mind readers.
Most of us would like to be in their place - not a person who would give us more puzzles, but who in turn would like to be an open book.

Facts

But a look at the human brain lets us forget all fears and hopes. As difficult as it is sometimes to understand a person - looking into his mind, at least down to a mental level, seems impossible.
Because in contrast to the (common) neural networks in computer science, what has been learned in the brain is not in a rigid form. On the one hand, there seem to be processes that work with the information, and on the other hand, and that is far more serious: just every retrieval changes the information. Due to this alone, a state could only be interpreted if the previous states were known. And I may dream sometimes, but to believe in providing the neural status of a person - starting from conception (! Including the respective interpretation, including all relevant environmental information!) - that exceeds my imagination by far.

outlook

And yet we sometimes believe that we are "embedded" in other people, sometimes we even have "the same" thoughts. Magic? Supernatural? (Only that which is not natural is supernatural, i.e. simply something that does not exist - at best, only the worldview needs to be adapted) Certainly not! On the one hand we share experiences with other people, on the other hand we are in the (happy) position of being able to communicate our thoughts. In this way, especially with very familiar people, a similar interpretation can arise - which, by the way, will be completely differently coded neuronally!

And it seems to be a special ability of humans to be able to empathize with others (mentally!) - but sometimes I don't want to deny animals to understand you either. But just as little as intelligence is this ability instilled into us by a higher being. Some people may also speak of emotional intelligence in this context - in any case, you have to learn and work on it.

More than an idea of ​​what is going on in our counterpart can only be obtained through communication, and even that not beyond doubt.
But isn't linguistic communication telepathy? Do we not receive the thoughts and feelings of our fellow human beings with eyes and ears? Why would you want an organ or another communication channel? In one way or another, we would only get to see what the other wants to tell us, or what we cannot hide anyway.

And so it can be said that psychology in this case is very similar to physics. We can continue to refine or correct our models of the world, but we can never grasp their real existence. And so psychology seems condemned to be a descriptive and not an explanatory science. Predictions based on models are still possible, and a model is only useful if you know beforehand what will come out of it!
Basically, it's better if life still leaves us with a few more secrets.



Generated at 20:45, Sep 22, 2005 by Henrik Stamm,
hstamm (aet) informatik.hu-berlin.de