The Role of Language in Telepathic Communication
Over the past ten years even the most closed-minded of skeptics have come to admit what most people have always known, namely that telepathy is a real and important interpersonal communicative device. However, thus far little research has been done into the nature of telepathic communication. Specifically, it has not been determined whether telepathy involves language or is carried out in the realm of pure meaning.
The research conducted in this paper makes plain that telepathic communication is linguistic communication. Four study groups were used in our experiment. Each group had twenty members and was sub-divided into senders and receivers. All members of the first group were monolingual English speakers; those of the second, monolingual Yap speakers. In the third group, the senders spoke English and the receivers Yap; in the fourth, vice-versa. There were also four control groups whose receivers were linguistically affiliated as above, but whose senders were dummies. Not literally mannequins, of course, nor persons of sub-normal intellectual capacity, but false senders who did not send any thoughts to their receivers.
The experiment was conducted serially with individual sender/receiver pairs. The sender was given a set of 8 pre-printed cards, reproduced below in Figure 1, and told to concentrate on transmitting what was on one of the cards to the receiver in an adjacent room. To facilitate communication, the sender and receiver were always introduced prior to the transmission phase. Each sender could pick any of the 8 cards and was made to repeat the process twenty times. The receiver would concentrate and try to pick up the message, then indicate what he was receiving by pointing out an identical card in his possession.
Figure 1. Cards (actual size larger than as reproduced)
The results by group were as shown below in Table 1. As the table makes clear, the percentage of correct identifications between speakers of different languages is, in statistical terms, not significantly different from that registered by control groups.
Table 1. Percentage of Correct ID’s by Receivers
It is clear, then, that even when the information to be transmitted is presented to the sender in pictorial form, as in this experiment, the sender makes use of language in transmitting it. Of course, information transmitted in an incomprehensible language is not of much use to the receiver.
One unexpected but intriguing result of the experiment was the remarkable proficiency of Yap speakers at sending thoughts to other Yap speakers. The English to English results of 62.3% correct responses were well within the 55-75% range normally found in such experiments, but the Yap score of 98.7% was unheard of. To verify the percentage, we repeated the Yap to Yap test with five different groups of Yap speakers. None of them scored below 97%, and three scored even higher than our original set of subjects. Their scores might have been higher still if not for the confusion caused by the unfamiliarity of the snowman, a card which accounted for over 50% of Yap receiver errors.
Our subsequent inquiries among the Yap did not turn up any evidence of universal mental training which could account for these results; according to one informant, “All Yap people read other Yaps’ minds well from the time they learn to speak.” Another possible explanation: if telepathic communication takes place at a deep rather than surface level, then it may be that Yap’s surface structure is closer to that of UG than is that of English. The greater level of error in English to English transmission could result from performance error in linguistic derivational processes.
Whatever the case, it seems plain that further cross-linguistic telepathy research is necessary. Thus far, most research has been done with SAE language speakers, in particular Russian and American college students. Further research might reveal speakers even more proficient as telepaths than Yaps. If so, and if the nearness to UG hypothesis is correct, we may have discovered a wonderful tool to be used in the delineation of UG, which is of course the ultimate goal of all linguists.
Gebhard von Blucher and Moira Daugherty
University of Micronesia
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