How to make people think you can read minds

Six steps to develop the sensory awareness to read beyond words and expressions.

You don’t use your mind to read the minds of others. You read minds by reading your heart and gut.

To fully hear and understand someone, you need to be aware of your sensory reactions as well as your mental activity. With sensory awareness, you can receive and discern what is going on with others beyond the words they speak.

How to make people think you can read minds

Cognitive Awareness

It’s likely you spend most of your time using your cognitive awareness. You seek to understand situations and people by narrowing in on and interpreting what you see and hear. Even with training, it is hard to accurately decipher facial expressions as psychology professor Lisa Feldman Barrett and colleagues have found.

There is far more going on in any interaction than what people are saying and perceptibly expressing.

Sensory Awareness

Sensory awareness includes an inward awareness of your reactions in a conversation. Your reactions might be in response to what they tell you. You also might be reacting to what you energetically receive from the people and the world around you.

You can sense people’s desires, disappointments, needs, frustrations, hopes, and doubts when they can’t or have trouble articulating these experiences themselves. This requires you access all three processing centers of the nervous system—your brain, heart, and gut.

The courage to be sensitive

Being sensitive doesn’t mean being wishy-washy. It means you are aware of what is going on around you on a sensory level, and can sense when people are conflicted, distressed, or stimulated. Most people claim their pets have this uncanny radar, able to sense emotional needs from another room. It’s the ability to pick up vibrations emitted from emotions.

You were likely cut off your senses as a part of your conditioning as a child. Were you ever told, “You shouldn’t take things so personally,” or, “You’re too soft. You should toughen up?”

When you don’t allow people to get under your skin, you aren’t experiencing others and yourself fully. You are disconnected internally and externally. You put up a wall between yourself and the people you are with.

I’m often asked if venturing into the land of emotions is risky, especially at work. “I can’t show I’m emotionally affected by what is going on, and I certainly can’t allow people’s emotions to sway me.” The business world is full of aphorisms that declare, “Only the tough survive.”

When you allow yourself to be sensitiveto feel deeply and empathize with othersyou are more capable of making a difference.

Empathy doesn’t mean getting caught up in people’s emotions and dramas. There is a difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is understanding. Sympathy is absorbing other’s emotions and either taking them on yourself or trying to minimize them so you both don’t feel.

Empathy shows you understand what others are experiencing and that you accept their experience without judgment. When people feel safe to express themselves, they can move into exploration and action more quickly.

By elevating your sensory awareness, you help people feel seen, accepted, and valued. Your empathy gives hope.

To start, you must see being sensitive as a strength. This requires a shift in perspective, not in personality.

Six steps for building sensory awareness in conversation

  1. Be quiet, inside and out. When you quiet your thinking/chattering brain, you clear your sensory channels.
  2. Listen with your heart and gut as well as your head. Before your conversation, recall what you are most grateful for to open your heart. Then breathe into your belly while remembering a time you spoke up or stood up despite your fears to open your gut. You can find a quick visualization on how to open all three processing centers of your nervous system—your head, heart, and gut—on this page.
  3. Ask yourself what you are feeling. Your emotions are in part a reflection of what the other person is feeling. You may have to learn how to discern your emotional reactions from what you pick up from others. To help learn this skill, use this Emotional Awareness exercise: Notice when you are uncomfortable with the emotions you are picking up. See if you can release your judgment by activating your curiosity. Relax your muscles and your breathing. Care more about them than yourself in this moment.
  4. Test your instinct. When you feel a sensation in your heart or gut, share what you think they might be feeling—anger, frustration, sadness, yearning. Accept their response whether they agree with you or not. If you are wrong, your guess could help them identify their emotions and inclinations for action. Be quiet and patient with their response; they may need time and space to think about what they feel. Don’t interrupt their thinking or try to make them feel better. Catch this urge and return to listening. If they say they don’t want to talk about it, accept their request.
  5. Don’t criticize yourself. If you beat yourself up for not being perfectly aware, you will disconnect from the person.
  6. End graciously. Ask if there is anything they need to move forward now. You can ask if they would like to look at possible solutions. If not, thank them for sharing with you.

I know this is easier said than done. Staying alert to the emotions you are feeling and receiving can be painful, scary, or uncomfortable. It takes true strength to stay tuned-in.

Most people want to feel seen, understood, and valued especially when emotionally conflicted. When you share what you hear with your heart and gut, they might appreciate that you are listening and caring so deeply.

We all have the capacity to read minds. We just need the patience and trust to believe what we read.

How to make people think you can read minds

You knew what was going to happen before it happened and the fact that you had psychic ability and could read minds surprised you. This experience of being right on with your intuition about things that haven’t happened yet is more common than you might think.

It’s possible that psychics don’t have any skills beyond what we possess ourselves. Psychics have simply learned to be excellent observers. With practice, you can learn to develop your psychic abilities so that reading someone’s mind becomes a powerful tool.

Predicting someone’s thoughts is easier the more that you know about reading people. In learning to detect the small, observable things that people do with their bodies and words when speaking to you, you can pick up on what is not being said.

If you could read minds, it would make your life much easier, so let’s explore how to access your psychic ability to read someone’s mind. Here are a few suggestions to practice with.

Reading body language

Hands in fists on hips, a furrowed brow and slightly downturned mouth are pretty universally understood as angry body language. If you were tying to read this person’s mind, their thoughts would sound like “I can’t believe you did that. I’m so frustrated with you!”

Now let’s try another one. If a person is resting their chin in the palm of one hand, has slightly pursed lips, and their eyebrows are raised slightly while they are looking up at you, what would you guess their thoughts would be? This is a typically bored posture, so their thoughts might be “I wish I was somewhere else doing what I want to do.”

Reading facial expressions

An easy trick for determining what someone’s facial expression means is to mimic their face yourself. One your facial muscles repeat what theirs are doing, you can sense the emotion that they are feeling because you know what corresponding emotion goes with that set of facial movements.

For example, if someone is raising their eyebrows near the bridge of their nose and opening their mouth slightly, they are probably trying to plead with you for something that they want.

Withholding the truth can be seen in people’s facial expressions. One study found that when people are withholding their emotions, they tend to blink faster. The study also found that people who are hiding something have facial expressions that are inconsistent with their emotions, for example smiling when they are angry.

You can read more about how to tell if someone is lying to you here.

Reading into language

Ask yourself, “What aren’t they telling me?” The things that a person says are almost as important as what is left unsaid. Leaving things unspoken could mean that the person is trying to keep their options open or attempting to deceive you by failing to be specific. They could also be trying to be diplomatic by only telling you what you want to hear.

Lie-spotting author Pamela Meyer says that people will gloss over details when they are lying. For example, if you ask what they were looking at on their computer and they say “Oh just some stuff that somebody posted,” they are probably hiding something from you.

Trusting your intuition

Your intuition is that inner voice that is very important for reading minds. The intuition is picking up on cues from our environment when we may not even notice them. It uses all of this information that it has gathered to come to a conclusion.

The intuition is particularly important for making trust decisions. When your safety is on the line, your intuition will tell you whether a person can be relied on to keep you from harm. Reading someone’s mind when it comes to protecting yourself is an important use of your psychic abilities.

Learn to tell the difference between your expectations and reality

Ask yourself what you hope you will read in the other person’s thoughts. This is one possible thing that they are thinking, but it is more likely that your desires are clouding your ability to perceive clearly.

Learning to calm your thoughts is helpful with accessing your psychic ability to read someone’s mind. Your own thoughts can interfere with what you are trying to pick up on. Clearing your mind through meditation, deep breathing, and spending quiet time in nature can help you to be more receptive.

You can read more about how to prepare yourself for mind reading here.

Get more Oxytocin

In a study of mind reading skills, that is people’s ability to read the mental state of someone by interpreting subtle social cues, data suggests that oxytocin helps. Oxytocin is released by the brain when you receive a hug, do something exciting, or have an orgasm as well as during other pleasurable activities.

Researchers found that oxytocin improves the ability to infer the mental state of others from social cues of the eyes. Giving someone a hug before you try to read their mind might be the boost that your intuition needs to get the right answer.

The future for mind reading holds some promise for technology that can reconstruct your thoughts. Researchers studying how the brain maps information have discovered that they can reconstruct images based on what areas of the brain are activated as seen in an MRI. Once they know how mental representations map onto patterns of neural activity, they were able to demonstrate several impressive feats of mind reading.

Is there a psychological explanation for ESP?

Although there is no research evidence to support mind-reading via extrasensory perception (ESP), there are individuals who are extremely skilled at reading others’ body language and making educated guesses about what they are thinking or feeling. Psychologist William Ickes calls it “everyday mind-reading,” and there is evidence that we can develop our perceptual skills and become better at reading other people’s feelings and thoughts.

Nonverbal Decoding Skill. Much of our ability to tap into others’ feelings and emotions is through individual differences in “reading” others’ nonverbal emotional expressions, particularly through facial expressions and tone of voice. To give you a sense of what a skilled nonverbal decoder can do, watch a professional “mindreader” or “mentalist” at work on stage. The “mentalist” seems to have some sort of ESP, but is actually reading the nonverbal cues of audience members. The mindreader says, “Someone here has recently experienced a loss of a family member,” and then looks for subtle reactions. Zeroing in on the person who reacts, the mentalist probes around and watches for reactions. It’s not ESP, it’s highly-developed nonverbal decoding skill. The way to improve your ability to decode nonverbal cues is through systematic practice. Here is a guide for improving nonverbal decoding skill.

Consider the Context. It isn’t enough to be a good decoder of nonverbal cues. To really be an everyday mindreader you need to consider the context. The same nonverbal behaviors in different contexts mean different things. Imagine a wife and husband in a group discussion. You notice the wife gently squeezes her husband’s hand. If it occurs during a lull in a conversation, it likely is a sign of affection. If it occurs after someone else has said something provocative, it might mean “pay attention” or “remember what I told you?” If it occurs after the husband has said something, it might mean “keep quiet!” Context matters.

Deception Detection Strategies. One might be motivated to become an everyday mindreader in order to tell if others are lying or telling the truth. I’m sorry to tell you that research shows that we are simply not very good at detecting deception. There are some rare individuals, however, who have exceptional ability to detect lies. Psychologists Paul Ekman and Maureen O’Sullivan labeled these people “wizards” of lie detection. How do they do it? The wizards look for inconsistencies in nonverbal behavior, or between what a person is saying and how they are saying it. They also analyze the context. Importantly, they don’t fall prey to mental shortcuts when it comes to lie detection, such as believing that a liar won’t make eye contact, or will look in a certain direction when lying. Research actually shows that liars engage in more eye contact than truth-tellers. Good liars know all about the mental shortcuts people are prone to. (Here is an earlier post that might help you in improving at lie detection.)

So, how do you become a better everyday mindreader?

1. Get Motivated. It’s not easy to be a good nonverbal decoder, so you have to have the dedication to do it.

2. Practice. Reading body language and contextual cues require a great deal of practice. Importantly, you need to practice in a way that allows you to assess your accuracy. In other words, if you don’t know the “truth,” you can’t learn to become more accurate.

3. Don’t Take Mental Shortcuts. Don’t assume that a certain nonverbal cue always means the same thing. Don’t fall prey to stereotypes about people and their body language. For example, several studies suggest that deception is better detected by focusing on the liar’s words, rather than their body language. In other words, is the lie plausible? Are the verbal and nonverbal cues consistent?

If you’ve ever been convinced by a salesperson that you truly wanted a product, done something too instinctively, or made choices that seemed entirely out of character, then you’ve had an idea planted in your mind. Here’s how it’s done.

This classic post has been republished is part of our Evil Week series at Lifehacker, where we look at the dark side of getting things done. Knowing evil means knowing how to beat it, so you can use your sinister powers for good. Want more? Check out our evil week tag page .

Welcome to Lifehacker’s Fifth Annual Evil Week

It’s that time of year again: With Halloween getting closer, we’re feeling the need to unleash our…

If you’ve seen the film Inception , you might think that planting an idea in someone’s mind is a difficult thing to do. It’s not. It’s ridiculously easy and it’s tough to avoid. We’re going to take a look at some of the ways it can work.

Note: We’ve gotten a lot of emails about how to do this in specific situations. Although some of those situations have been legitimate, this post was written to teach you to detect these tactics or use them for positive reasons, rather than use them on others for selfish or nefarious purposes. If you want a good way to convince people to do what you want that doesn’t involve the dark side of manipulation, read this and this .

How Can I Be More Convincing and Get Anything I Want?

Dear Lifehacker, I’ve read about how to plant ideas in someone’s head, but the whole idea of…

Reverse Psychology Actually Works

Reverse psychology has become an enormous cliché. I think this peaked in 1995 with the release of the film Jumanji . (If you’ve seen it and remember it, you know what I’m talking about.) The problem is that most people look at reverse psychology in a very simple way. For example, you’d say “I don’t care if you want to go risk your life jumping out of a plane” to try and convince someone not to go skydiving. This isn’t reverse psychology—it’s passive-aggressive. So let’s leave that all behind and start from scratch .

Three of The Easiest Ways to Manipulate People into Doing What You Want

You can do a lot of things to be more persuasive, from learning better ways to communicate to more…

If you’re going to use logic reversals in your favor, you need to be subtle. Let’s say you want your roommate to do the dishes because it’s his or her turn. There’s always this approach:

“Hey, would you mind doing the dishes? It’s your turn.”

But in this example we’re assuming your roommate is lazy and the nice approach isn’t going to get the job done. So what do you do? Something like this:

“Hey, I’ve decided I don’t want to do the dishes anymore and am just going to start buying disposable stuff. Is that cool with you? If you want to give me some money, I can pick up extras for you, too.”

What this does is present the crappy alternative to not doing the dishes without placing any blame. Rather than being preoccupied with an accusation, your roommate is left to only consider the alternative. This is how reverse psychology can be effective, so long as you say it like you mean it.

Never Talk About the Idea—Talk Around It

Getting someone to want to do something can be tough if you know they’re not going to want to do it, so you need to make them believe it was their idea. This is a common instruction, especially for salespeople, but it’s much easier said than done. You have to look at planting ideas in the same way you’d look at solving a mystery. Slowly but surely you offer the target a series of clues until the obvious conclusion is the one you want. The key is to be patient, because if you rush through your “clues” it will be obvious. If you take it slow, the idea will form naturally in their mind all by itself.

Let’s say you’re trying to get your friend to eat healthier food. This is a good aim, but you’ve got a tough enemy: they’re addicted to the Colonel and need a bucket of fried chicken at least once a day. Out of concern you tell them to eat healthier. They either think that’s a good idea and then never do anything or just tell you to stop nagging them. For them to realize what they’re doing to their body, they need to have an epiphany and you can make that happen by talking around the issue.

To do this you need to be very clever and very subtle, otherwise it will be obvious. You can’t just say “oh, I read today that fried chicken is killing 10 million children in Arkansas every year” because that’s a load of crap and comes with an incredibly obvious motivation for saying it.

If chicken is the target, you need to make chicken seem really unappealing. Next time you sneeze, make a joke about coming down with the avian flu. When you’re ordering at a restaurant together, verbally convey your decision to order something other than chicken because you just learned how most chicken is processed by restaurants. When you’ve done enough of these things—and, again, with enough space between them so that it doesn’t seem like odd behavior—you can start being a little more aggressive and stop going with your friend to get fried chicken. You can also take proactive steps to improve your own health and tell your friend 1) what you’re doing, and 2) how well it’s working for you. After a few weeks, if your friend hasn’t decided to reconsider his or her position on frequent fried chicken, you can casually mention it and they should be much more open to having a real discussion.

Undersell

Underselling is probably one of the easiest and most effective ways to plant an idea in someone’s mind. This is another version of reverse psychology but at a less aggressive level. Let’s say you’re trying to sell someone a hard drive. They could buy a 250GB, 500GB, or 1TB hard drive. You want to sell the largest hard drive possible because those cost more and mean more money for you. Your buyer is coming in with the idea that they want to spend the least money possible. You’re not going to get very far by telling them they should spend more money when you know they don’t want to. Instead, you need to cater to what they want: the cheap option. Here’s a sample dialogue:

Buyer: Can you tell me about this 250GB hard drive? I want to make sure it will work for me.

You: What kind of computer do you have and what do you want to use it for?

Buyer: I have a 2-year old Windows laptop and I need it to store my photos. I have about 30GB of photos.

You: 250GB is definitely more than enough for just storing your photos, so as long as you don’t have many more files you might want to put onto the drive it should be just fine for your needs.

This last sentence instills doubt in the buyer. You could even add “you’d only need a larger drive if you wanted to be absolutely sure you’ll have enough space in the future” but that might be pushing it a little bit. The point is, if you appear to have their best interests at heart it can be easy to make them think they want to buy more from you.

Again, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that planting ideas in the minds of others is not necessarily a nice thing to do. Use this information to detect when someone’s doing it to you and not necessarily as a guide to do it to somebody else for evil reasons.

Humans cannot literally read the minds of others, but can create mental models so as to effectively intuit people’s thoughts and feelings. This is known as empathic accuracy, and it involves “reading” cues telegraphed by the words, emotions, and body language of another person.

Most people are able to read others to some degree, but those on the autism spectrum or individuals afflicted with psychotic disorders may struggle to discern the emotions or social cues of others.

Often, knowing our own mind and motivations is challenging enough, let alone the minds of strangers or even relatives, friends, or partners. In relationships, many people make the critical mental mistake of overestimating a partner or family member’s ability to read their own thoughts, assuming that anyone who knows them well should also know what they think or feel, even if they haven’t said it out loud.

Contents

  • How People Read Each Other
  • Improving Your People-Reading
  • When Mind Reading Is a Challenge

How People Read Each Other

In science fiction stories, mind reading is routinely used for nefarious purposes. In the real world, having a clear sense of what others think and feel helps us avoid conflict and miscommunication and strengthen personal relationships.

When attempting to read someone’s mind—or, more accurately, their mood—body language, tone, and choice of words are usually the best places to begin. Another critical element is empathy: Being able to put oneself in someone else’s shoes can provide key insights into their perspective, and make understanding their thoughts, feelings, and actions that much easier.

Can people read each other’s minds?

Research suggests that our discernment of others’ emotions and trustworthiness may manifest in our body’s reactions to them at least as strongly as in our mental assessments of their speech. Trusting one’s gut, then, by being mindful of our body’s reactions to someone else, can help us make more accurate judgments about others.

What emotional signals do we give others?

When trying to read other people, we tend to look to their faces. Research shows that while the faces of happy people take on a V shape, with eyebrows and mouths turned up, angry people’s faces form more of an X, with eyebrows and mouths turned downward. Being conscious of this tendency in others and ourselves can improve communication and understanding.

How well do romantic partners read each other?

Romantic partners are not much better at reading each other’s feelings than they are at reading anyone else’s. By some estimates, even spouses may only gauge each other accurately about a third of the time. Partners may struggle to struggle to judge each other objectively because of sentiment override, in which one’s own feelings about a relationship influence their interpretation of a partner’s feelings.

Do individuals from different cultures read people differently?

As children, individuals raised in different cultures learn to adopt local norms for the display and expression of emotions. In places such as Japan, for example, people may emphasize masking emotions when others are present. People also read others differently based on their particular “cultural accents.” For example, Americans rate expressions of happiness, sadness, and surprise more intensely than other people do.

By Ker Than 27 April 2005

Empathy allows us to feel the emotions of others, to identify and understand their feelings and motives and see things from their perspective. How we generate empathy remains a subject of intense debate in cognitive science.

Some scientists now believe they may have finally discovered its root. We’re all essentially mind readers, they say.

The idea has been slow to gain acceptance, but evidence is mounting.

Mirror neurons

In 1996, three neuroscientists were probing the brain of a macaque monkey when they stumbled across a curious cluster of cells in the premotor cortex, an area of the brain responsible for planning movements. The cluster of cells fired not only when the monkey performed an action, but likewise when the monkey saw the same action performed by someone else. The cells responded the same way whether the monkey reached out to grasp a peanut, or merely watched in envy as another monkey or a human did.

Because the cells reflected the actions that the monkey observed in others, the neuroscientists named them “mirror neurons.”

Later experiments confirmed the existence of mirror neurons in humans and revealed another surprise. In addition to mirroring actions, the cells reflected sensations and emotions.

“Mirror neurons suggest that we pretend to be in another person’s mental shoes,” says Marco Iacoboni, a neuroscientist at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine. “In fact, with mirror neurons we do not have to pretend, we practically are in another person’s mind.”

Since their discovery, mirror neurons have been implicated in a broad range of phenomena, including certain mental disorders. Mirror neurons may help cognitive scientists explain how children develop a theory of mind (ToM), which is a child’s understanding that others have minds similar to their own. Doing so may help shed light on autism, in which this type of understanding is often missing.

Theory theory

Over the years, cognitive scientists have come up with a number of theories to explain how ToM develops. The “theory theory” and “simulation theory” are currently two of the most popular.

Theory theory describes children as budding social scientists. The idea is that children collect evidence — in the form of gestures and expressions — and use their everyday understanding of people to develop theories that explain and predict the mental state of people they come in contact with.

Vittorio Gallese, a neuroscientist at the University of Parma in Italy and one of original discovers of mirror neurons, has another name for this theory: he calls it the “Vulcan Approach,” in honor of the Star Trek protagonist Spock, who belonged to an alien race called the Vulcans who suppressed their emotions in favor of logic. Spock was often unable to understand the emotions that underlie human behavior.

Gallese himself prefers simulation theory over this Vulcan approach.

Natural mind readers

Simulation theory states that we are natural mind readers. We place ourselves in another person’s “mental shoes,” and use our own mind as a model for theirs.

Gallese contends that when we interact with someone, we do more than just observe the other person’s behavior. He believes we create internal representations of their actions, sensations and emotions within ourselves, as if we are the ones that are moving, sensing and feeling.

Many scientists believe that mirror neurons embody the predictions of simulation theory. “We share with others not only the way they normally act or subjectively experience emotions and sensations, but also the neural circuits enabling those same actions, emotions and sensations: the mirror neuron systems,” Gallese told LiveScience.

Gallese points out, however, that the two theories are not mutually exclusive. If the mirror neuron system is defective or damaged, and our ability to empathize is lost, the observe-and-guess method of theory theory may be the only option left. Some scientists suspect this is what happens in autistic people, whose mental disorder prevents them from understanding the intentions and motives of others.

The idea is that the mirror neuron systems of autistic individuals are somehow impaired or deficient, and that the resulting “mind-blindness” prevents them from simulating the experiences of others. For autistic individuals, experience is more observed than lived, and the emotional undercurrents that govern so much of our human behavior are inaccessible. They guess the mental states of others through explicit theorizing, but the end result is a list — mechanical and impersonal — of actions, gestures and expressions void of motive, intent, or emotion.

Several labs are now testing the hypothesis that autistic individuals have a mirror neuron deficit and cannot simulate the mental states of others.

One recent experiment by Hugo Theoret and colleagues at the University of Montreal showed that mirror neurons normally active during the observation of hand movements in non-autistic individuals are silent in those who have autism.

“You either simulate with mirror neurons, or the mental states of others are completely precluded to you,” said Iacoboni.

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Scientists around the world are racing to be the first to develop artificially intelligent algorithms that can see inside our minds.

The idea is not new: in the science fiction of the 1950s and 60s, crazed doctors were frequently seen putting weird contraptions on people’s heads to decipher their thoughts. British TV serial Quatermass and the Pit – in which such a machine is used to translate the thoughts of alien invaders – is a prime example.

Now reality is catching up with fantasy. In the past year, AI experts in China, the US and Japan have published research showing that computers can replicate what people are thinking about by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (or fMRI) machines – which measure brain activity – linked to deep neural networks, which replicate human brain functions.

Is it telepathy?

While headlines around the world have screamed out that AI can now read minds, the reality seems to be more prosaic. Computers are not yet able to anticipate what we think, feel or desire. As science writer Anjana Ahuja remarked in the Financial Times, rather than telepathy, “a more accurate, though less catchy, description would be a ‘reconstruction of visual field’ algorithm”.

Most of the research so far has been aimed at deciphering images of what subjects are looking at or, in limited circumstances, what they are thinking about.

Studies have previously focused on programs producing images based on shapes or letters they had been taught to recognize when viewed through subjects’ minds.

However, in one recent piece of research, from Japan’s ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories and Kyoto University, scientists said that not only was a program able to decipher images it had been trained to recognize when people looked at them but: “our method successfully generalized the reconstruction to artificial shapes, indicating that our model indeed ‘reconstructs’ or ‘generates’ images from brain activity, not simply matches to exemplars.”

How to make people think you can read minds

In other words, it could decode and represent an image it had not been “trained” to see.

Think that sentence again?

Meanwhile, scientists at Carnegie Mellon University in the US claim to have gone a step closer to real “mind reading” by using algorithms to decode brain signals that identify deeper thoughts such as “the young author spoke to the editor” and “the flood damaged the hospital”.

The technology, the researchers say, is able to understand complex events, expressed as sentences, and semantic features, such as people, places and actions, to predict what types of thoughts are being contemplated.

How to make people think you can read minds

After accessing the mental triggers for 239 sentences, the program was able to predict a 240th phrase with 87% accuracy.

Marcel Just, who is leading the research, said: “Our method overcomes the unfortunate property of fMRI to smear together the signals emanating from brain events that occur close together in time, like the reading of two successive words in a sentence.

“This advance makes it possible for the first time to decode thoughts containing several concepts. That’s what most human thoughts are composed of.”

Ethical challenges

The outcomes of such research promise much that could benefit humanity. The developments show we have come a long way since the fictional Professor Quatermass used a mind-reading machine to interpret the thoughts of Martians.

Yes, there are fears we could develop killing machines that operate at the speed of human thought, but equally such advances could help those without the powers of speech or movement, and speed up multilingual translations, without the need for electrodes to be implanted in people’s heads.

Many, including serial tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, are excited by the opportunities such technologies could bring to the lives of people with disabilities, but researchers and governments have yet to spell out how they can ensure these are used to benefit the human race rather than harm it.

And, despite rapid developments here and in related areas such as gene editing and incorporating humans with computers, we are no nearer a global agreement of what ethical and moral standards are needed in this brave new world.

Change your life with the power of thought

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How to make people think you can read minds

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How to make people think you can read minds

  • B.A., English, St. Olaf College

Your mind is a very powerful thing, and most of us take it for granted. We believe we aren’t in control of what we think because our thoughts seem to fly in and out all day long. But you are in control of your thoughts, and you become what you think about. And that little kernel of truth is the secret power of the mind.

It’s really not a secret after all. The power is available to every single person, including you. And it’s free.

“The secret” is that you are what you think. You become what you think about. You can create the life you want, simply by thinking the right thoughts.

Earl Nightingale on “The Strangest Secret”

In 1956, Earl Nightingale wrote “The Strangest Secret” in an attempt to teach people the power of the mind, the power of thought. He said, “you become what you think about all day long.”

Nightingale’s inspiration came from Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich,” published in 1937.

For 75 years (and likely long before that), this simple “secret” has been taught to adults around the world. At the very least, the knowledge has been available to us.

How the Power of the Mind Can Work to Improve Your Life

We are creatures of habit. We tend to follow the picture in our minds created by our parents, our neighborhoods, our towns and the part of the world from which we come. For good or for bad.

But we don’t have to. We each have a mind of our own, capable of imagining life the way we want it. We can say yes or no to the million choices we each encounter every single day. Sometimes it’s good to say no, of course, or we wouldn’t get anything at all done. But the most successful people say yes to life overall. They are open to possibilities. They believe they have the power to make changes in their lives. They aren’t afraid to try new things or to fail.

In fact, many of the most successful companies reward people who have the courage to try new things, even if they fail, because the things we call failures often turn into extremely successful things. Did you know Post-It Notes were a mistake in the beginning?

How to Use the Power of Your Mind

Start imagining your life the way you want it. Create a picture in your mind and think about that picture steadfastly all day long. Believe in it.

You don’t have to tell anybody. Have your own quiet confidence that you can make the picture in your mind come true.

You will start making different choices in line with your picture. You will take small steps in the right direction.

You’ll also encounter obstacles. Don’t let these obstacles stop you. If you hold your picture of the life you want steadfast in your mind, you will eventually create that life.

What have you got to lose? Close your eyes and start now.