The Human Mind Meld: The Perils of Unfiltered Knowledge Transfer

We might like to think that we have completely original minds, but we are easily influenced by others and have an "unknowingness" of how our "human mind meld" works. 


Vulcans, the extraterrestrial species in Star Trek, are capable of transferring knowledge to other species, including humans, through physical contact. Fortunately for humans, the Vulcans have a great deal to offer, such as how to eliminate poverty and disease. 

While this so-called "mind meld" trick might be the stuff of science fiction, it is nonetheless true that humans are remarkably good at picking up on what other people know, and actually do it all the time without realizing it.

What's the Big Idea?

In her talk at The Nantucket Project, a festival of ideas on Nantucket, Massachusetts, Laurie Santos, a cognitive psychologist at Yale University, presented research that suggests humans are hardwired to share. This motivation, in fact, might be the enabling characteristic of our species to create culture. 

Not only are we inclined to share knowledge, our brains also automatically process the knowledge of other people. Even when we are incidentally processing information we are influenced by others, Santos points out. So does this make us good learners?

It depends, of course, on who your teacher is. 

The problem, of course, is that the "human mind meld" is an unfiltered process. We might like to think that we have completely original minds, but we are easily influenced by others and have an "unknowingness" of how this mind meld works. 

So what are we to do about it?

For one thing, Santos says you should "surround your minds with the smartest people you can."

Watch the video here:

Images courtesy of ShutterstockMeghan Brosnan

To learn more about The Nantucket Project and how to attend the 2013 event visit

Follow Daniel Honan on Twitter @Daniel Honan

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