James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Some years ago on public radio's This American Life program people "on the street" were posed a question: Which superpower would you choose between these two: ability to fly or ability to become invisible? From what I recall, respondees indicated that in their real desire is invisibility, but presented as a moral choice, they'd take flying. With flying, one could do some good. Rescue people and such. (When asked, people were told that they could, when flying, be able to carry as much as they can when they're not flying). Invisibility, however, may yield even greater pleasure and profit, but only as a result of spying on people and invading their privacy. Invisibiity gives one the ability to steal and blackmail - who'd want that?

I saw the new television show Psych last night. A man has special powers of noticing and remembering the slightest details of everything he sees. He uses this power to become a fake psychic, police consultant, and private detetective. It's a fairly entertaining show; not appointment viewing, but if it's on, one can't say "there's nothing on."

Like the flying/invisibility question, this makes me wonder: would I rather have these super powers of observation and retention, or genuine psychic ability? "Psychic ability" is probably too vague a term; I suppose it depends what kind of power it is: esp, remote viewing, seeing visions, etc. But it seems that psychic phenomena generally is inherently unreliable - there's always a level of uncertainty. They see something but don't know where, or see something terrible happening but don't know when. A real, non-charlatan psychic probably wouldn't be as accurate as the fellow in Psych, and therefore less ability to do either good or evil.

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