Social Question

AshLeigh's avatar

What effects do you think it would have on you, and on the world, if everyone were granted the ability to read minds?

Asked by AshLeigh (16340points) October 20th, 2011

It is no longer necessary to speak in order to communicate, and it is no longer possible to lie to another person, but what else do you think would happen? How would you feel about it?

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50 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

Disaster, everywhere.

AshLeigh's avatar

@Blackberry pretty much!
I know I’d be executed, immediately. XD

poisonedantidote's avatar

I would try to learn how to scamble the message by constantly thinking nonsense.

“Ahhhh bikker baker chicken whacker… Ohhhh fishy fishy fishy BANG! no no yes, fine no five no one thousand, send me all your cheese”

AshLeigh's avatar

@poisonedantidote, O.O Hahahahahaha. That’s amazing. :)

saint's avatar

Everybody would begin to appreciate the objective virtue of honesty. A good thing.

AmWiser's avatar

I would have been dead years ago if people could read my mind, or in jail for killing someone for their thoughts.

noservice's avatar

L: You do not understand. Organics do not know each other’s minds. Geth do. We are not suspicious. We accept each other. The heretics desired to leave. We understood their reasons. We allowed it. There was peace between us.

S: It couldn’t have lasted forever. You disagreed about what path your race should take.

L: Human history is a litany of bloodshed over differing ideals of rulership and afterlife. Geth have no such history. We shared consensus on such things. How could we have become so different? Why can we no longer understand each other? What did we do wrong?

S: When individuals are separated, they develop in different ways. When they get back together, they don’t always get along.

L: If this is the individuality you value, we question your judgement.

—Exchange of dialogue in Mass Effect 2

Long, dorky answer =P It’s one of my favorite moments in the game.

Bellatrix's avatar

I would probably get into a lot more trouble and spend much time trying to concentrate on some insignificant thing like a spot on the wall to try keep my thoughts private.

Jeruba's avatar

We would perish from the abject boredom and misery of having to listen to all the inane drivel that goes on in all the other minds as well as our own. If that didn’t kill us all by itself, we’d probably commit mass suicide within the first half hour.

Rarebear's avatar

Mass insanity

King_Pariah's avatar

I would leave civilization in a jiffy. And then point and laugh as civilization tore itself apart.

28lorelei's avatar

If everyone could read everyone else’s mind in the way that we would have a mass collection of knowledge everyone had access to,
1. trying to keep information secret would be pointless
2. science would advance at an extraordinarily fast pace
3. wars would turn out very weirdly
4. ???

filmfann's avatar

My face would get slapped a whole lotta more.

Pandora's avatar

@Bellatrix I would just hand a bunch of shiny baubles. I seem to lose my concentration around them. They are so pretty.
Everyone else will be miserable.

mazingerz88's avatar

G. W. Bush might end up totally incommunicado.

CaptainHarley's avatar

It would mean the end of the legal profession, the end of the advertising profession, and the end of politicians. The initial result would be chaos until society reorganized around the truth instead of lies and half-lies.

AshLeigh's avatar

@CaptainHarley, thank you. That is exactly the kind of answer I was hoping for.

smilingheart1's avatar

You hypocrite! Would be everyone’s exclamation. Gypsies, tramps and thieves and oh yes, judges and lawyers would be on equal turf.

Sunny2's avatar

Talk about brain traffic! you couldn’t think your own thoughts if everybody else’s were interfering with yours. You’d have to be able to turn it off or you’d go nuts. And you’d never know when someone was reading your thoughts. No privacy at all. @Rarebear and @Blackberry are right: disaster and mass insanity everywhere. Let’s go play in a different sand box.

wundayatta's avatar

With the voices of thousands competing inside our heads all the time, people would rapidly go mad. People would try to get as far away from others as they could, assuming there was some distance over which mind reading was not possible. Hopefully there would be some limitation—like you could only read the mind of someone who was within two feet of you.

If there were such a limitation, then a new social rule would arise—that people should not approach each other any closer than two feet. Outside the range of telepathy. If you saw people closer than that, your automatic assumption would be that they were lovers or very close friends.

Even better would be if people could only read minds if they were in physical contact with each other. But the wider the range of telepathy, the more unwanted views of other people’s minds would intrude into our heads, and the madder we would be driven. Either that, or we’d learn how to avoid reading thoughts.

I think mind reading would probably destroy the human race.


There would be total chaos. Distrust, animosity, hurt, etc., you name it. All the bad things that come from human evilness.

Remember this episode from “Gilligan’s Island”? Gilligan discovers sunflower seeds that, when eaten, allow people to read each other’s minds.

Bellatrix's avatar

Lol at an experience on Gilligan’s Island being cited as proof of the outcome of this mind reading horror. Funny. Thank you @MRSHINYSHOES. Love it.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Thank you! BTW… it would also mean the end of the used car market, but everyone knows that. : ))

Jeruba's avatar

@AshLeigh. it wasn’t clear from the wording of your question that you had a certain kind of response in mind. It sounded like an open-ended question that welcomed a variety of individual opinions.

ucme's avatar

A ton of women would know I wanted to hump them & the wife would then chop my balls off with a big knife!!

Bellatrix's avatar


Keep_on_running's avatar

Example of mind-reading:

Me: “Urgh, why does she need soooo many darn topics listed in her question?

AshLeigh: What?! WTF why do you care anyway?

Me: Oh…shit.

Etc. Etc.

AshLeigh's avatar

@Jeruba, I wasn’t only hoping for that answer. But I was looking forward to thoughtful, creative responses, instead of just “Destruction. Chaos.”

gr8teful's avatar

If I was very lucky there might be at least one kind compassionate person who would grant me my last wish .If I was very unlucky It would be too horrible and lonely and terrifying to think about.It would bring World Chaos and Chaos is never good. I wonder if there would be less or more Wars? If a Soldier knew he was being sent to a Country because of a Political agenda and he or she did not agree with it maybe there would be less Wars .Eventually people would get used to It and Society would segregate into good and bad people ,much like Heaven and Hell.

wundayatta's avatar

@AshLeigh Maybe people don’t see anything positive that could come of it. What did you have in mind?

I think that if there is to be anything positive, then there has to be restrictions—so that mindreading is possible only under certain circumstances, preferably only when the parties involved agree to it. Even if that was the case, I’m having a hard time imagining anyone who might truly want to open their mind to another, except for true lovers. Then I imagine it could be bliss.

AshLeigh's avatar

@wundayatta, I didn’t have anything positive in mind either. But I was hoping for different ideas. Like, what you would do, to try to avoid having your mind read. Or how would people act.
I didn’t have anything specific in mind. I was hoping for something original, and new from everyone.

EmptyNest's avatar

I agree with @CaptainHarley, I think we’d eventually adapt and things would be better.

MilkyWay's avatar

Man oh man!
I think there would be a whole lot of hating going on in people, and that it would take a long while before things simmered down. But we’re humans at the end of the day, we’d survive.

JoeyOhSoClever's avatar

Good question Lurley :D! Anyways, I believe it would take a very long time adjusting to honesty all the time. This would be great if we had choice whether we would want to read someone mind, so there wouldn’t be nothing but clutter from everyone else’s thoughts in our mind. On the bright side we would never have a President lie to us again.

AshLeigh's avatar

Thanks, HB. :)
Take that Nixon!

Strauss's avatar

If it were sudden, there would almost certainly be mass confusion, consternation and chaos. After we all adjusted, we would get used to it and we would handle the truth. Knowing the truth might just result in “harmony and understanding, sympathy and trust abounding”.

likipie's avatar

No politician would ever be elected, nobody would ever be called “normal” again, there would be a lot more honesty and a lot more hurt (not particularly in that order) and we would ALL realize that we’re ALL human and we ALL make mistakes.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

I would be killed for my extremely dirty mind.

madsmooney1214's avatar

I’d stop thinking about anything except my cat.

Sunny2's avatar

I don’t think it could be a good thing unless we, as individuals, could control what passes through our minds. Someone says, “Do not think of an elephant.” How can you not? That elephant is there, whether you like it or not.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I think honesty would prevail after awhile out of necessity. There might be some carnage in the meantime, then things would get awfully boring. And after working on a psych unit with some real bad types—narcissistic sadists without conscience, etc.; people who started out pulling wings off bugs and torturing cats and ended up fantasizing about gutting other humans and crawling inside them while they are still alive and screaming—I don’t really want to know everything they think. I just want to medicate them.

cutiepi92's avatar

I don’t think it would work just technically speaking lol (yes I am a buzzkill). To start, most people don’t think in cohesive sentences. We think in random spurts like “he’s hot I should tell him not wait what is that over there oh my god he is looking at me do I have a booger oh my god I have a booger let me make a sexy face” etc lol. So when we read each others minds it would be utter crap. Not only that, think if you were reading someone else’s mind that was reading your mind you would only be reading your own mind. I don’t think it would be a good thing overall though. While it would help with honesty, I think it would hurt more. After all, many things are best kept only in our minds. We should not judge people on what goes through their heads but what their actions are. After all, if someone thinks about stealing something or thinks about cheating yet doesn’t, does that make them a bad person? I wouldn’t think so because they were smart enough not to act on those urges, but in a mind reading world they would be judged for it.

Inspired_2write's avatar

One would have to be supplied with a filter to filter out the nonsense.
At times people dwell on things of little importance and worries.
That would have to be focused on what really matters in life.
Otherwise with out this filter..we would become overwhelmed with too much.

Unbroken's avatar

Sign me up for a tinfoil hat… Or sequestered isolation.

On a more serious note humans are very anxious creatures our frontal lobe which is our fear center is the largest on the planet. We are motivated by fear and ruled by fleeting emotions, it is also our nature to compare and relate things which leads to jealousness and unhappiness.

I think the shear amount of chatter would be hard to adjust to. But we are very adaptive species however. I think we would find a way to deal with it all. Filter ingoing and outgoing info.

Can you imagine the market for thought shields etc? What a lovely new scam!

On a personal note we would probably hurt our loved ones and miscommunication would at first grow.

There is a chance it would level off. But we are human and we screw everything up that can be screwed up before we start getting thing right.

Cute question!

Sinqer's avatar

I wouldn’t mind others being able to hear my thoughts. I would hate having to hear theirs if I couldn’t shut it off. I strive, and do pretty well, when it comes to honesty.

Actually, I think I would like two effects that come to mind, accurate individual evaluation and natural ethical repercussions for decisions and actions.
Relationships might last longer, perhaps harder to find at first, but true sharing of feelings… epic.
People would truly get to know one another. I have no problem with that at all. Though it makes me wonder about all the people that would fear their thoughts getting out… deceptive are we? :)

chinchin31's avatar

I think the world would be a better place .

Anna737's avatar

Maybe we could all see that we are all just different manifestations of “Source”.

Ettina's avatar

I’d like it. People would stop misunderstanding me all the time, and I’d stop misunderstanding them.

SmartAZ's avatar

When you look at something pleasant your pupils get very big. When you look at something unpleasant your pupils get very small. This fact has always been used by young ladies to attract young men. That is why you hear stories about “love at first sight”.

I once met a lady and the thought crossed my mind “What a remarkably ugly woman.” She looked at me as if I had slapped her and got away immediately, without speaking.

Well, you only have to get embarrassed once or twice to stop letting your eyes signal what you are thinking. You learn to keep your thoughts to yourself. So there you have an example from real life of what you are talking about.

Kraigmo's avatar

There would be embarrassment, confusion, disgust, a reckoning, and then finally an acceptance, and then a massive worldwide calming

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