CFI Canada Discourse #3: Telepathy Proved !?
discourse [n,v]: the use of words to exchange thoughts and ideas
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One morning, as is my habit, I was catching up on email and looking at a few blogs and I came across Sean McGuire’s “My Secret Atheist” blog post about an animal telepathy event being held at the University of Saskatchewan. It’s an older post, but you can find it here:
It would be a really cool to have voluntary and periodic telepathic communication with some people. My blue-tooth enabled phone gives me an approximation of that….I’m able to send my spoken thoughts from just about anywhere on the planet to just about anywhere on the planet where there is a person holding a phone (presuming I know their number). Being blue tooth enabled…I can even do it with my eyes closed and without holding anything in my hand. The flashing blue light beside my ear is also rather stylish in a “I wish I was a Borg” kind of way.
My reaction to human-to-animal telepathy is less enthusiastic. I’ve had many pets over the years, so even if it’s true that it’s possible, I wouldn’t expect to be on the receiving end of a lot of wisdom by accomplishing it. I rather suspect anybody opening themselves up to the receiving the thoughts of Fluffy are in for a barrage of “Want some of that.” or “Go out now.” and probalby even “This smell is interesting.” But hey, if folks want to waste a bit of money at an event on a “skill they can learn”…well, its their own money they’re wasting (exept of course, the grant money also being spent on this rather annoys).
But then, when I read this information from the host:
The Animal Communication presentation and workshop is the start of my research program examining how communication with animals may help contribute to a deeper appreciation and affinity for the environment, and greater environmental sustainability. It is part of my larger research program examining how Indigenous and other ways of knowing can be recognized, valued and establish their place as legitimate forms of knowledge in academic and modern Western contexts. Indigenous Peoples often have a way of knowing and communicating with nature, animals and the environment as a whole that is very different from main-stream and Western society.
I was struck by just how egregious the situation can be. Really? Human-to-animal telepathy is connected to appreciation for the environment and greater environmental sustainability? And it also connects with valuing indigenous people? To be frank, my skepticism of telepathy didn’t make this event or the blog post much more than a curiosity….in recent discussions of CFI Canada’s priorities (and yes, such strategic discussions are certainly happening from the board-level down), telephathy, whether human-to-animal or human-to-human, didn’t register even once.
But wait, I also came across this article with the headline “Is this proof that humans have TELEPATHIC powers? Two men, 4,600 miles apart, send messages to each other using just their minds”:
I’m not a scientist, but I’ve figured out in my short time at CFI Canada that scientists publish their work in journals. The Daily Mail (Mail Online) article referenced the journal PLOS One, so I looked up the study
What is described is not exactly what “comes to mind” when someone says the word “telepathy”. For those of you who may not read the article, here’s a quick excerpt:
In a series of experiments, we established internet-mediated B2B communication by combining a BCI based on voluntary motor imagery-controlled electroencephalographic (EEG) changes with a CBI inducing the conscious perception of phosphenes (light flashes) through neuronavigated, robotized transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), with special care taken to block sensory (tactile, visual or auditory) cues
B2B means brain-to-brain; BCI means brain-computer intervace, CBI means computer-brain interface. Again, I’m not a scientist, but I think this means that some electrodes collecting information from one person, transferred that information to a computer and via internet to another computer which sent input to another person. The result, apparently was that:
In both cases, the transmitted pseudo-random sequences carried encrypted messages encoding a word – “hola” (“hello” in Catalan or Spanish) in the first transmission, “ciao” (“hello” or “goodbye” in Italian) in the second
In other words, they communicated hello and good bye to each other while blindfolded – and through a computer. I like that the messages were only “pseudo-random” and that the “streams of pseudo-random bits representing the words “hola” and “ciao” were successfully transmitted mind-to-mind between human subjects separated by a great distance, with a negligible probability of this happening by chance”. Indeed.
So what’s the point of doing a CFI Discourse on all of this? Well, recently some of our CASS members have had email dialogue regarding scientific journals and the need for some critical thinking in terms of our approach to published scientific articles; we’ve also had strategic dialogue about ensuring that CFI Canada continues to provide educational training in critical thinking. So telepathy is really just a convenient platform to put the question out there….what are we going to do to make sure there is more critical thinking training going on in our organization? Let’s put our heads together on this, shall we?