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Reading the mind

chandigarh Updated: Jan 13, 2014 09:57 IST
Dr AS Nagpal

Most of us at some time have considered what it might be like if human beings were able to read each other's mind. It would be so embarrassing. The thoughts of others about us would be surprising, maybe shocking. The ridicule, the judgement, the envy may be unbearable.

Many relationships will fail, while others may improve tremendously. The unedited truth erupting from unexamined minds will devastate millions of sensitive souls emotionally. The murder and suicide rates across the world will skyrocket. It may even lead to another world war or clashes between neighboring countries.

Let us start this journey of imagination. Mind machines would be the biggest advance in human evolution since the invention of wheel, fire, or computer. Now, what will be the advantages of this invention? You would have true knowledge of the intentions of the person proposing to you, offering you a job, asking for your vote, or selling you something. We'd be able to prevent many crimes.

On the flipside, however, some people will be prosecuted even for thinking against the law or the government.

The sages said: "The truth is best hidden." If we are able to read minds, we will become open books. Honesty is not always the best policy. In the Bollywood movie "Kyonki Main Jhooth Nahin Bolta", Govinda speaks truth and ends up annoying everybody, and messing up both his personal life and career.

Sceptics say that when people will come to know that somebody can read their innermost thoughts, they will start masking their reflections or blanking their minds. A deaf elderly man and was under my treatment. On one of his visits, I gave him the good news: "Your hearing now is perfect. Go, enjoy."

He said he had got his hearing back three months ago, and now he could listen to all the conversations in the family. "Please, don't tell my family," he said, "They should continue with the impression that I am deaf. I have changed my will three times in the past three months."

If a boss could read his employees' minds, he would have fired all of them. It will also create problems between husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, teacher and students, colleagues at work, and parents and children etc.

Society will be boring, if all thoughts were public. One wouldn't feel the need to express them.

Poetry, novels, songs, great works of art, and architecture would be redundant.

A mind-reading machine might help prevent deception and lies but it is best used occasionally.

Invention or no invention, we have the ability to read minds even now. It depends on how we approach the target, how much we know about him or her? The people's expressions, subtle hints in the eyes, the increase in heartbeat are telltale signs of what's on the mind.

However, in the end, we are back to what the sages said: "The truth is best hidden."