Mind-Reading

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There was this interesting post I remember reading, with a title that said something like “I can read your mind”.

It seemed a little silly. If anything, impossible. I mean, I am the only one that can read my own thoughts, right? (at least, I sure hope so).

In the post, the instructions said to add numbers in my head and do it as quickly as possible without thinking about it too much. Once I was done with one equation, I move onto the next. It went something like this:

What is 13+7? Some dots, then, what is 6+83? Dots in the middle. What is 14+32? 63+12? 89+19? 137+25?

“STOP! QUICK, THINK OF A COLOR AND A TOOL!”

“I’m guessing…red hammer?”

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I was totally blown away. That was exactly what I thought of while doing math in my head (it was a little bit hard since arithmetic, in general, isn’t exactly my forté).

The trick itself is called “The Red Hammer Mind Trick“. Regardless, I became obsessed to know exactly how this form of wicked manipulation worked. There was no possible way some random internet user, who is probably thousands of miles away, could know what I was thinking about based off of some math. Preposterous.

After doing some quick Googling, the answer became clear. Well, sort of. There are apparently some theories floating around on how this trick works. One person says there is a book called “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, where he talks about “two systems of thinking”, one that is primal, or by instinct, so it is quicker, and one that takes time, but is logical. Math urges us to think critically, kind of “distracting” that fast-acting part of your brain, and once the post asked for you to think quickly of something we all know–a color and a tool–it reactivated that part of your brain. A hammer is the most common tool we learn early-on, and red is a bright, noticeable color.

Makes a bit of sense, right?

Then there is a more concrete theory based on the actual post itself, where the physical dots separating the equations resemble nails on a wall, and how the sudden request to think of something is like a “hammer to the head”.

Sounds a bit gruesome. The first theory seems to be more concise.

You can’t specifically know what someone is thinking about. You can guess by facial expressions or certain body-language of others (which is something I love learning about). Or, just asking what a person is thinking about directly can sometimes work. Sometimes. That person can “grant” you that satisfaction of knowing what they think about; however, you cannot know what a person is thinking about all the time.

That’s why we have privacy.

Which brings up an interesting question: do we have the right to our own thoughts?

Of course we do.

Then again, there are these paranormal gurus called psychics. They don’t really read your mind as much as they try to predict your future. They make themselves appear to do so by asking questions such as, “have you recently had a loss in the family?” or “are you dealing with something you are afraid to tell someone else?” and other, rather vague yet emotionally-attached questions (honestly seems like a ploy to “accidentally” tell them your future plans or what you’re thinking about). There are plenty of people who have had losses in their family. Actually, everyone has. Along with deaths, everyone has problems in their lives.

Have you ever had a conversation with someone, and you seem to have so much in common it was almost eerie? It’s happened to me. And those with plenty in common tend to “tune in” to someone’s emotions often.

Other than at a paranormal or coincidental level, it’s the never-ending, innate human curiosity we have. After creating a bond with someone, it doesn’t take long to unconsciously pick up their vibes. It can turn into this obnoxious fume that emanates to you and others, especially if you live with them.

Some of us tend to make “mind-reading” into a bit of a problem, however. I’m sure you know someone like this: tends to give clues or hints rather than being direct with how they’re feeling, getting upset over minor provocations that they thought someone should’ve known about, yet the other party had absolutely no idea.

Here’s an example:

You are over a good friend’s’ house, and they recently had a baby. They allow you to hold their child, and you gently caress their tiny face. Aww, how sweet and cute they are.

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Suddenly, they completely freak out and yell at you, shouting something like, “don’t touch my baby!” as they snatch their child from you. You’d be completely bewildered.

Later on, you find out that the baby’s face was particularly sensitive and broke out easily. How were you supposed to know? No one told you that the child’s face was unable to handle a simple touch. The friend expected you to be a mind-reader.

This form of passive-aggressiveness can happen anywhere. A boss may expect you to already know how to use a cash register, even after you’ve specifically told them during the interview that you have no experience working a register. Or, some grumpy passenger on a bus could shout at you just by sitting next to them, not telling you that it was reserved for a friend, but instead, they assume that you were being a creep.

Humans are silly little things, aren’t they?

Despite our paranoid minds, no one can tell what you want, or what you need, or how you are feeling just by thinking about it. There is such a thing as context, and making grand assumptions or jumping to conclusions only adds strain and confusion, even conflict. Leave past circumstances aside, as not everyone is the same based on personal experiences. Be open-minded. You never know how your actions can affect another person.

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