When people speak of telepathy or extrasensory perception, they view man as a being endowed with five distinct faculties, called the five senses; and they contemplate the possibility of his being also endowed with another faculty to be called the sixth sense. But there is another way of looking at the matter. What if man is a being sensitive to influences of all kinds, from everywhere, and that he has around him a shell of flesh which shields him from most of these influences, but leaves open just a few chinks, such as the eye, ear, or nose, through which perception may pass? And what if this shell is beginning to break down so that more perceptions can penetrate through other than the usual channels? Man may be living in a common thought atmosphere, as we live in a common atmosphere of air. It may be normal that we should perceive thoughts in other minds, and abnormal that we should not. The notion of a transference of thought would then be needless, for that notion is based on the supposition that our minds are apart; but where there is no gap there is no need to build a bridge. And then as to mechanism: mechanism does not carry us far in explaining our normal senses; it can explain how the vibration of the fork is transmitted to the ear drum and thence to the internal ear; but that is where we quit. And sight is in even worse case; for we have had to invent an ether to convey light to the eye; and there again is where we jump off.
So we need not be so much concerned if we fail to devise a mechanism for telepathy. It would seem that our ideas are somewhat confined by the familiar expression "the five senses," and that sensitive people have a great many other vague indefinable susceptibilities and awarenesses which they cannot group under any one of these five heads. Such people would not be in a hurry to develop new susceptibilities; they would rather seek protection.
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