Insights Into Belief
in Mental Telepathy
“[almost had a psychic girlfriend, but she left me before we met. ”
Our responses to social situations depend on how we interpret or construe them (see chap. 4). Interpretations of events around us are ordinarily accurate enough to get us through our daily lives. But sometimes, especially when a situation is unfamiliar or ambiguous, our understanding of it can be flawed, or at least at odds with others understanding of it.
A nice example, albeit a fictional one, comes from the movie E. T. The extraterrestrial creature in the movie became the beloved playmate of the trusting, lonely boy who discovered him. By contrast, the adult authorities in town, being suspicious by nature, saw only a sinister, ugly thing.
Or consider the following nonfictional account, told to one of us (RPA) by a Peace Corps volunteer just back from a remote Indian village in the Andes mountains of Chile. The hardworking Indians, living simple lives in their isolated village, had rarely seen people eager as the volunteers, who showed up suddenly offering to help improve their schools, roads, farming, and sewage system. The Indians suspected that it was all a clever trick by missionaries seeking to convert them to alien beliefs. Having arrived at this conclusion, the villagers acted reverently in the presence of these “ministers” but doggedly opposed any measures they recommended. This behavior was extremely puzzling to the volunteers and their supervisors. The misunderstanding was finally corrected, just when it was time to leave. At