Telepathy not that powerful in Star Trek?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by Xerxes1979, Dec 14, 2012.

  1. Xerxes1979

    Xerxes1979 Captain Captain

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    I just can't reconcile Sabin's inability to correctly read the thoughts of anyone in the Drumhead to the apprehension characters like Groppler Zorn and Devinoni Ral to hearing that Troi was Betazoid.

    Was Betazoid telepathy more a bluff than anything else? Used for advantage much like the legend of Zakdorn invincibility?

    The only truly gifted telepaths we saw in TNG were Lwaxana Troi and telepathic superfreak Tam Elbrun.

    However what if telepathic ability was related to royal bloodlines? Spock another gifted telepath could be also argued to have some high standing given what happened in Amok Time. Then again Tuvok and T'Pol were fairly competent in the mental arts.

    Sabin must have been unable to read thoughts well, for the only other explaination is that he was a hardcore McCarthyite, something that would not seem possible being born on a telepathic planet of no secrets.

    Also relevant to the conversation is whether telepathy is active and evident to the recipent as in the Vulcan method(which would allow for mental defenses) or simply the observed thoughts picked up from your leaky brain. Gul Dukat laughed off a mind probe attempt by Sakonna, so it is clearly doable.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Aren't you forgetting the Talosians, the Melkot, the Letheans, the Enarans from VGR: "Remember," the Aenar, the Remans, Species 8472, etc.? Not to mention powerful telekinetics like Gary Mitchell, the Thasians, Apollo, and the Platonians -- or superbeings like the Q.

    TOS went to the telepathy/telekinesis well remarkably often -- which isn't that surprising because it was a sci-fi concept that didn't require a lot of expensive special effects to tell a story about.
     
  3. Xerxes1979

    Xerxes1979 Captain Captain

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    Sorry, Federation member telepaths and how they interact in diplomacy and law.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Oh, sorry, I misread your post -- you said "in TNG" when I thought you said "in Trek."
     
  5. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    TNG was the kind of show to introduce plot-breakers then pretend they never did. Telepathy's a big plot-breaker. Any and all deception becomes impossible. Lots of times when somebody was hiding something, Troi says things like "I'm sensing...a vague feeling of deception", because if she said "He's lying and planning to do something really evil" the episode would be over.

    Sabin seemed that way in the Drumhead too. He sensed "...Vague feelings of deception" from Simon Tarses, and he was lying. I kind of got the feeling he trusted himself like a religion. If you sense any lying: They're a traitor. If you sense any defiance: You're a sympathizer and trouble-maker. All his telepathic feelings were filtered through his own pre-decided expectations.

    There was that quarter-betazoid guy who almost telepathic-suicided Troi.
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    In the late 24th century, interspecies procreation within the Federation might be such old news that Sabin would in fact be something like 7/8 Betazoid despite never being referred to as mixed breed. As a result, he might be no more skilled than Troi.

    "True" full telepaths might flat out refuse to cooperate with anything as ridiculous as a court of law, being alien to the concept of finding out the truth...

    Of course, it is logical to assume that lie detection would involve an element of bluff, regardless of how good the tech really is. LaForge for one could be flat out lying about his VISOR-based abilities, and things like the psychotricorder might be for intimidation only, too. But it would also be nice to assume some development has taken place in this respect.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Deks

    Deks Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Telepathic ability or lie detectors wouldn't necessarily tell you that someone is lying if the person being questioned perceives something to be 'the truth' in the first place.
    The individual would have to be aware of the difference of what is a 'lie' and what is 'true'.

    So... if say a murderer is convinced that they didn't know they killed someone and this to that person is the truth... why would a lie detector be able to tell you otherwise?
    People do have the ability to suppress their memories of an act if its something they actively don't want to remember and behave in a manner that never indicates they did anything wrong.
    Of course... in a case of a telepath... that would depend on him/her searching for the supposed suppressed memory... and only when they find it... how can they be sure that its not just a conjured up image from the subconscious or the conscious mind in an attempt to envision a different outcome to the same situation?

    I don't think that being a telepath allows you the ability to distinguish what is accurate or not... unless the distinction exists in the mind of a person you are probing and is accessible to the telepath in the first place.
     
  8. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I always thought that Sabin was simply overwhelmed by Satie. He was so convinced she was right, it colored his perceptions of the people he was interviewing.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Exactly. All it can tell you is what the subject believes or perceives to be true, and people's perceptions can be wrong. For that matter, if you're taking a telepath's testimony, there are two sets of unreliable perceptions to take into account, since there's no guarantee that the telepath's interpretation of the other person's thoughts and memories is entirely accurate.

    So-called "lie detectors" (a label so inaccurate that it is a lie in itself) have the same problem. Polygraph results by themselves don't tell you much; they're one piece of data evaluated by the person who administers the test, and that person makes the decision about the subject's veracity based on evaluation of the subject's overall behavior and psychological state as well as the polygraph results. There have been tests showing that polygraph operators who've been preconditioned to believe their subjects are lying will end up deciding they lied even when they were entirely truthful, and vice-versa. A telepath's perceptions might be subject to the same bias.
     
  10. Xerxes1979

    Xerxes1979 Captain Captain

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    The thing is that Sabin was 100% wrong to accuse Worf all people of being a Romulan sympathizer!

    Worf is telepathically transparent. You don't have to scan his mind to know he eats, breaths, and sleeps honor.

    Being wrong about such obvious personality trait would call into question his ability to competently assist in any criminal investigation. And if he was willingly engaged in a witch hunt the poor quality of the lies would undermine the chances of a conviction/success.


    Satie was technically retired. Perhaps she was losing her marbles like Sarek was and Sabin was swept up in her dimentia.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2012