By Susam Pal on 03 Jul 2009

Last night, I was with a group of people I didn’t know. In the
group, there was a kid who claimed that he could read the minds of
others. With utter disbelief, I approached him. He covered both my
ears with his palms and asked me to think of something. I thought of
the number 5 and he immediately said aloud, “5”. I was astonished.
How could the kid read my mind? To ensure that he did not simply get
lucky, I thought of another number, 7, and he immediately declared,
“7”. I thought of a few more numbers and he correctly announced all
the numbers. I was completely bewildered. The people around were
equally perplexed. They felt that both of us were working together
to hoodwink others. An old man in the group who seemed intrigued by
all this approached us and asked us to perform more experiments in a
structured manner. He proposed that the numbers be generated using a
pseudorandom number generator of a scientific calculator and written
down on a paper. He asked me to silently read the numbers on each
paper, then think of those numbers, and see whether the kid could
then read my mind.

While he was preparing a list of random numbers, I was trying to
understand how on earth the kid could be reading my mind. He could
not be have got lucky every single time. He seemed to have direct
access to my mind. However that would be a miracle, maybe not in
future, but it is a miracle at least today in the year 2009. I kept
thinking, coming up with various hypotheses, and discarding them. By
sheer luck, I thought of a contraption involving one random number
generator (RNG) connected to two displays. In this apparatus, the
output of the RNG appeared immediately on the first display, but
only after a delay of 1 second on the second display. Now it would
seem that the first display was predicting the output of the second
display. I continued thinking more in that direction. What could
possibly be the source of the thoughts that was accessible to both?

After a little thought, it occurred to me that it could be my own
mind. Probably the kid and the people I could see were simply
creations of my mind. Perhaps, I was asleep and dreaming. I wanted
to test the hypothesis. If it was only a dream and my mind was
creating all the experience, I should have been able to read the
minds of others. I had no clue how the experience of reading others’
minds would feel like but I went ahead to test the hypothesis. I
asked another person to be a volunteer. He agreed. I covered his
ears with my palms and asked him to think of a number and suddenly
the number “17” echoed in my mind. I was thrilled. I asked him
whether “17” was the number. He confirmed that it was indeed the
number he had thought of.

Unfortunately, I could not stay in this state of
lucid dream
for long. I woke up soon after realizing that I was in a lucid
dream. If you find lucid dreaming intriguing I recommend
Waking Life to
you, a very thought provoking movie that shows the experience of a
man trapped in a persistent lucid dream state.

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