Social Question

DancingMind's avatar

If you had the ability to hear people's thoughts, would you use it?

Asked by DancingMind (5812 points ) January 26th, 2010

I would… I’m hopelessly curious about just about everything… especially things I can’t really know. At least, I think I would. Sometimes I wish I could, actually… but I guess I haven’t really thought about possible downsides….
But when someone gives me a compliment—‘nice earrings!’ or whatever, I want to know… is that because you couldn’t think of anything else nice to say? Or because you really like the earrings? Or because you feel like you have to be nice to me? Or because you’re looking for me to compliment you back?... That’s just a random example. But there’re so many possibilities for everything anyone says! What do they really mean?... do you wonder? Do you want to know?

And would your answer be different if you couldn’t ever turn the ‘power’ off?

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35 Answers

Allie's avatar

Only on certain people.
If it doesn’t have an on/off function, does it at least have a mute button?

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

If I could use it selectively, then yes. However, I wouldn’t always want to hear everyone’s thoughts.

Alleycat8782's avatar

I would like to have the ability to hear people’s thoughts only because I have been lied to in the past by people and it would be nice to hear what they are really thinking.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Yes.Now stop thinking i wouldn’t! ;)

shego's avatar

I don’t think I want to hear what others think about me. I mean sometimes I I talk to people I don’t like, and I know they wouldn’t want to hear what I am thinking about them. So no I wouldn’t consider it.

SeventhSense's avatar

Well I was always told it’s none of my business what other people think of me so I’d have to say no. I think that this would probably create a lot of politically correct individuals and mamby pambyesque cow-towing and a bland society where everyone was trying to please each other and prevent others from seeing their thoughts. Variety is the spice of life.
Besides your head would probably explode…look what happened to Mel Gibson

Fyrius's avatar

Oooh no.
Not to mention wanting no part in such horrible violation of privacy on such an intimate level, it would be far better for my faith in humanity only to see the shop front people put up and not have it rubbed in unnecessarily that we all look a whole lot less sparkly beyond the fa├žade.

And this is coming from someone who has spent pretty much his entire childhood trying to reverse-engineer an understanding of how other people’s heads work and how to deal with them without confusing either them or me. Go figure.
I really prefer continuing the trial and error way on this one.

Jeruba's avatar

Now and then I probably would use it, and probably not to good purpose, either. Aside from some moments of world-grade frustration with my husband, I’ve been most tempted at times when I was sitting around a long table in a conference room at work and somebody was speaking importantly about all the important stuff that the meeting was called to discuss or decide.

I look around the room and I see all these serious, attentive faces, apparently wrapped up in the remarks of whoever is speaking, and I imagine their thoughts:

Ron: That idea is just dumb. I have a better one.
Shelley: I have to pick up Chelsea at 4:00 and take her to the dentist.
Liz: I wonder if I have time to fix lasagne for dinner. I’ll just have to stop and pick up some ricotta. Maybe I should do it with cottage cheese instead. I can get that at the 7-Eleven when I stop for gas. Oh, but Dave won’t be home tonight. No point in bothering with the lasagne just for me and the kids. I’ll save the lasagne for tomorrow night and just open a can of beef stew tonight.
Vijay: I hope we don’t have to listen to Ron’s idea again.
Joe: I wish one of the managers were here to hear how brilliant I’m about to sound when I tell them what I think we should do instead.
Brenda: That color looks terrible on Shelley.
J.D.: Joe sure has an oddly shaped nose.
Anna: I have to pee.

And you already know what Jeruba is thinking.

It’s hard enough to keep a straight face while this is going on in my head. If I could actually hear it, I think I’d get such a bad fit of the giggles that they’d have to call in the medics.

HTDC's avatar

Nope. The truth scares me.

CupcakesandTea's avatar

It would depend on whether I could turn it on and off. On some people I would give anything to know what they are thinking.

borderline_blonde's avatar

I would have to be able to turn it off. I’m sure the novelty eventually wears off with a superhuman power like that, so after a while it’d just be something that I could do if I needed to.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

I would definitely. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do.

filmfann's avatar

What’s the point of a Super Power like that, if you don’t use it?
I would constantly use it. Moments where someone looks oddly at me, and I wonder “Do I have something hanging from my nose?” would be a thing of the past.

smashbox's avatar

Yes, but only if I could turn that special skill on or off whenever I wanted. If I didn’t have the ability to be able to turn it on or off, then no. I can’t imagine being on the subway, and hearing everyone’s thoughts at one time. I’d go mad, and I would have to stay drugged up, just to get the voices out of my head…

On a second thought, I’d propably get me a free government check each month, if I heard all those voices and went mad. Hmmm, free drugs and money, and a free ability!

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

john65pennington's avatar

Never. can’t you just imagine a man going into a strip club and the thoughts that were running through his mind? no thank you. my brain is already at the “filled-up” point and i have no room for substandard thoughts.

SeventhSense's avatar

@john65pennington
It would probably quickly end strip clubs…

His thoughts: “She is so hot…what I would do with her…God she needs my….”

Her thoughts: “Oh look another pile of cash coming this way…Lick your lips smile, grind…I wonder what time that dry cleaner opens in the morning?”

john65pennington's avatar

SeventhSense…......this is exactly what i was talking about. i guess i forgot the thoughts of the stripper. it does work two ways. thanks, john

jca's avatar

i would. i had asked a similar question on two different occasions on this site “Would you want to know what other people are thinking about you?” or something like that. A lot of people said no, some said yes. some of the ones that said no said things like they don’t care what others think about them, or people they care about are already honest with them. my feeling is that i would want to know. i know sometimes i see someone wearing something and it looks terrible, and i think “does that person think that looks good on them?” that’s just one example. i would want the ability to shut it off, however, because i might become depressed or obsessed with people’s opinions, and if someone thought something about me that i did not agree with, i could see myself getting mad over it. i might also feel resentful, and it might make me lose a few friendships, which would be a definite down side.

SeventhSense's avatar

@john65pennington
Him: She’s checking out my package
Her: Looks like a nice bulge in that wallet

essieness's avatar

I think I would. I’m so nosy. But I would like a mute button for some people.

Tenpinmaster's avatar

No, I think it would only cause pain. Although I do wish I could transfer thoughts and feelings in certain instances. I wish I could share how I truly feel about my girlfriend. There are times words cannot articulate how one totally feels. :)

phil196662's avatar

The real strange thing is I have this sixth sense that almost causes me to have it all the time, like I tell from all the visual and body language people put out. I just give it straight and just the good unless I know the person and they need the criticism. It’s not a bad thing and many woman have it but are frightened that I have it- growing up with three sisters caused it to happen and I like the what I call “Extra channels on my antenna”...

monocle's avatar

I don’t particularly care to know what everyone is thinking. Nah, I’d prefer to remain oblivious.

Nullo's avatar

I like to think that I wouldn’t. And I’m pretty sure that what the average person has running through their heads would be of little use in any case.

If it’s any consolation to the OP, there are people who do not compliment unless they are sincere.

YARNLADY's avatar

If I did, I’m pretty sure it would all look like this.

ella's avatar

hells yes

Siren's avatar

Most of the time, no. I’d prefer another super power. It may end up giving me a big headache like in the movie What Women Want

Jeruba's avatar

Besides, it’s bad enough to listen to all the jabber that people do speak out there in the world. Some people apparently don’t exert any discrimination at all over what comes out of their mouths—they just rattle on with every thought that comes into their heads, like a three-year-old. I wouldn’t even want to imagine what it would be like to hear all the junk they don’t think is worth saying. I’d probably go mad in two minutes flat at the sheer banality of it.

Sophief's avatar

No, I didn’t even want to hear my own.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

It would have been very useful when I did psychotherapy regularly.

Since I have ADHD, I would probably hear everybody’s thoughts simultaneously and it would be very confusing and stressful.

I would want the ability to turn it off and to focus it narrowly where more than one person is present.

I would like it to work with my pets too.

I would commit myself to never using the ability to harm the person whose thoughts I cold here.

I would also require myself to keep anything I overhear confidential.

I would not abuse the power to enrich myself (much). I am not a saint!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

No, thanks – enough that I hear things coming from their mouths.

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar

Living on campus, I already know what’s going through people’s heads.
“Shit class sucks.”
“Man I’m hung over.”
“I want beer.”
“Izzz dis weally duh way homer?”
and
“Man I wanna get her naked. I wonder how many rufies I have left” f***** frat boys

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Shield_of_Achilles christ, what college do you go to? switch schools.

Shield_of_Achilles's avatar

WVU
I love West Virginia, but sometimes I feel like I shoulda went somewhere else.

lonelydragon's avatar

@john65pennington Love your answer!

If I could use the power selectively (i.e. only target one person at a time when I feel like hearing his/her thoughts), then I might try it. But I’d only do it if it was a near-emergency, or if I couldn’t get the information I wanted in any other way. And even then, I would try to use it as seldom as possible. There are some things we’re better off not knowing…

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