Metaphysics is that realm of phenomena where effects are suspected, but not necessarily verified to exist, or where the causative element is presumed to exist outside of the normal mien of understood physical interactions. Metaphysics becomes physics once the principles are understood. Humans have been around for a long time, and have been observant for a long time. Metaphysics is the shady closet where millennia’s worth of observable but unexplainable phenomena have been categorized and stashed safely out of the way.
Once, the stars and planets were imagined to be embedded in celestial spheres rolled about the earth by the gods. The spheres and gods were gradually refined and replaced with gravitationally driven orbits as the metaphysical study of the cosmos became the physical study of celestial mechanics. Even today, many realms of scientific endeavor have metaphysical corners. These corners include artificial intelligence, certain aspects of quantum mechanics, and dark matter. As tangible results emerge from those studies, they migrate into the scientific mainstream.
Telepathy is an ancient metaphysic currently emerging into the physical body of knowledge. Charlatans, tricksters, and magicians quickly come to mind. Science fiction and comic book portrayals of telepaths establish the dominant view. The perfect example is embodied in Mr. Spock’s ritual “my mind to your mind” process wherein he establishes some sort of radio-like connection allowing him to eavesdrop another’s thoughts or to inject his own. All this sets the stage for telepathy as a metaphysical act.
The telepathic phenomena currently under study are not called “telepathy.” They have conventional names, which allows them to be studied in a conventional setting without ridicule. Those conventional names are “modeling,” and “mirroring.” This rather quiet promotion of a metaphysical notion into physical science came about through advances in brain imaging and monitoring where patterns of neural electrical activation and other measures can be captured quickly, constantly, and simultaneously across multiple participants in experiments.
Some results that you can search and read about include:
- A monkey watching experimenters eat exhibited the same mental patterns as when the monkey was actually eating (1, 10)
- Jazz musicians playing together are observed to exhibit identical scans when they are playing well and in harmony, and not otherwise. (2, 3)
- Pain centers and reflexes are activated in viewers watching a film of a woman about to cut her finger (5)
- Twins who complete each other’s sentences can be observed to activate the same mental centers simultaneously
Experiments that could be performed that I expect would yield similar results could include monitoring:
- Dancers at a rave (9)
- People listening to a rousing speech (4)
- People watching scenes in a film known to evoke strong emotions
- Viewers of an artwork where the viewers happen to share an appreciate of similar aspects of the artwork
- People having a conversation going so smoothly that they can complete each other’s sentences.
The underlying trait in all of these phenomena of modeling and mirroring is the activation of simultaneous similar or identical patterns of activity in the brains of the participants.
Thinking back for a moment to Mr. Spock’s radio connection to his subject, we can see that the radio analogy is apt. A radio transmitter sets up a particular signal, a spatio-temporal energetic pattern that resonates in the receiver, wherein the original signal can be recovered. This is very much akin to the phenomena observed in mirroring and modeling. Actual perception of verbal mental activity has not been observed, so that aspect of telepathy remains metaphysical, but the very nature of telepathy where identical physical states are reproduced across multiple individuals is now established science. It is a marvelous age in which we live.
This revelation gives us insight also into the power of art and literature, and also the power of a crowd or a mob. Using the framework of modeling and mirroring, we can frame art and literature as a technology or process whereby the artist or author attempts to establish particular patterns of mental and experiential activity in the minds of others. When we view Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, or read Homer’s Odyssey, we can imagine that similar patterns of activation are established in our minds as existed in the author’s when the artwork was created. In some small sense, we get a mental resonant connection across time to the artist. Similarly, and powerfully, when we attend a concert, film, play, political rally or march, a shared mental resonance emerges. A great artist, musician, director, politician or mob leader knows and exercises this. A poor artist fails to establish this mental resonance in his audience, and collectively we skip his works.
We are all telepaths, and some people are particularly adept at inducing the state of resonant experience. A performer transports us. A leader inspires us. Some people are said to have a reality distortion field. Some people are particularly adapt at entering the state of resonant experience, and are said to be intuitive, empathic, or simply good listeners. When people have an impaired ability to enter the resonant state, they are said to be insensitive, and in the extreme, autistic (5).
Understanding the physical nature of telepathy, we can improve our day to day experience. If we are aware of the collective effect of others upon us, we can modulate our own experience, and choose to be caught up in the moment, or remain aloof. Secondly, bearing in mind that through mirroring and modeling, any effect we are experiencing has some likelihood of being experienced by others around us, we should be able to more clearly and perfectly communicate with them.
At the same time, we should be ever so careful of what we choose to experience. We should recognize that what has formerly been an art-form perfected by the impresario and politician is now a science with measurable results and a canon of knowledge that can be leveraged by the skilled practitioner (1).
The understanding of telepathy as a physical process is allowing technology to emerge; telepathic toys are now entering the marketplace; witness the recent crop of mind-controlled levitation toys and joysticks for games (6, 7, 8). The implications for society are huge. As telepathy is no longer a metaphysic, a strange new world awaits us.
(1) Darren Schreiber, Macro Iacoboni, Monkey See, Monkey Do: Mirror Neurons, Functional Brain Imaging, and Looking at Political Faces, American Political Science Association Meeting, Washington D.C., 2005.
(2) C.J. Limb, A.R. Braun AR, Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Musical Performance: An fMRI Study of Jazz Improvisation, PLoS ONE 3(2): e1679. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0001679
(3) Katie Overy, Istvan Molnar-Szakacs, Being Together in Time: Musical Experience and the Mirror Neuron System, Music Perception, June 2009, Vol. 26, No. 5, Pages 489–504. Posted online on May 21, 2009, (doi:10.1525/mp.2009.26.5.489),
(4) Elisabeth Pacherie, Jérôme Dokic, From mirror neurons to joint actions, Institut Jean Nicod, CNRS-EHESS-ENS, 1 bis, avenue de Lowendal, 75007 Paris, France, Available online 7 March 2006.
(5) Lea Winerman, The mind’s mirror, Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association, October 2005
(6) Levitation Toys Really Test Brain Power,
(7) Emotiv Systems, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotiv_Systems
(8) Darren Waters, Brain Control Headset for Gamers, BBC News, 20 February, 2008,
(9) Cynthia F. Berrol, Neuroscience meets dance/movement therapy: Mirror neurons, the therapeutic process and empathy, The Arts in Psychotherapy, 33(2006), pp. 302-315
(10) Daniel Lametti, Mirroring Neurons, How Mirror Neurons let us interact with others, Scientific American.com, 9 June 2009,