What I Mean by “Telepathy”:

Reading Minds

First, an apology. When I use the word telepathy, I do not mean reading minds in the magical, fantastical, ESP, science fiction, paranormal sense. I do mean “reading minds,” but whether telepathy is real, whether thoughts can be directly exchanged, mind to mind, or plucked by one mind from another, is irrelevent to my goals.

The telepathy I mean here is the only telepathy most people have ever experienced: getting thoughts between minds by using a medium of communication: language, text on paper or the computer screen, over the phone, …  To be clear, I call this Technologically-Mediated Telepathy, or TMT for short, and every time I refer to telepathy, this is the kind I mean.

Writing is just one of many TMTs. A finite set of symbols arranged in infinite recombinations wrestles what’s on my mind into text. You try to decode it. You’re reading my mind through the technology of the alphabet, a machinery so ubiquitous, powerful and transparent, we forget to see it as a technology at all.

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