Let's say you are the President/Prime Minister/What-have-you of a major world power. Your staff have just informed you of a troubling development: psychic abilities are not only theoretically possible but present in an incredibly small fraction of the world's population. While most of the abilities tested have amounted to relatively minor telepathy and weak psychokinesis, your scientists warn that the only barrier to mind control is the power of the user. Even more concerning is the fact that no current genetic test can determine a psychic from a non-psychic.

As the leader of a world power, you understand the vast amount of danger any sort of psychic could pose to your regime. A telepath could easily leak major military secrets to foreign adversaries, and a single person with the ability to implant suggestions in the minds of others could effectively coup the government without anyone ever noticing the change. With this concern in mind, and with the data from a few tests conducted by your scientists, you need to determine some way to ensure your administration isn't compromised by those with abilities. While it's secondary to protecting yourself, ensuring your administrative changes don't tip the public off to the discovery of psychics is also a must.

So far, you know a few things about psychics:

  • Psychics cannot use their abilities on someone they aren't aware is there. If they can place a person in space, however, they can use their powers on them. For example, a psychic could read someone's mind if they knew they were in the next room over.
  • Telepaths can scan minds almost instantly, but it's estimated those with the ability to actually control minds take about thirty seconds to do so.
  • Psychics show no outward signs of using their abilities.
  • Psychics cannot use their abilities beyond a hundred meter range.
  • No known material can block psychic abilities.
  • Taking certain drugs can inhibit the brain to the point where it's difficult to read, but this has the added effect of inhibiting critical thinking, so likely isn't a permanent solution.
  • Telepaths can usually only read surface thoughts, and cannot pry into memories for the most part.
  • Mind-Controllers (your scientists still lack a catchy name for this group) can implant suggestions in many people simultaneously.
  • Mind-Controllers can only implant vague suggestions (ex. vote X on ballot B), and as such much of the particulars are left up to the victim's digression
  • No outward signs exist of mind control.
  • A victim cannot do things that directly oppose their self-interest (eg. kill a loved one). Most things that do not directly harm themselves or one they care about are acceptable, though.
  • A victim of mind control will insist the implanted ideas are their own.

With this in mind, how do you redesign your security structures to preserve your brain from the insidious machinations of the psychics?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Can psychics mind control multiple people at once? Also, do the victims show any obvious sign they are being controlled(eg: glowing eyes)? $\endgroup$ – nullpointer Aug 31 '18 at 3:18
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest you reading some of P.K.Dick's stories on psy and anti-psy... $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Aug 31 '18 at 3:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Your psychics can't be detected, their victims can't be detected, you can only determine that they exist based on the circumstantial evidence of "it couldn't have happened any other way." This is unsolvable. It's like asking, "how do you cure the flu if you don't understand medicine, can't prove the virus exists, and don't have the tech to make a vaccine?" Answer: you don't. You need to reask the Q as "what is the smallest change to my psy that would allow detection?" I can't see a valid VTC reason, but I've gotta downvote for being unanswerable. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 31 '18 at 5:38
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What countermeasures would you suggest for the flu if you knew nothing about it and couldn't prove it exists? Eating better? Staying warm? How will you judge the best answer (avoiding closure as primarily opinion-based)? Asking open-ended fishing-for-ideas questions is off-topic here. Worse, there isn't a solution that makes sense. How long can you keep a song in your head and still concentrate on work? How do you know it would even work? $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 31 '18 at 6:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How on earth do you know it kills in a localized but expanding area? How do you guess at its limitations? People failed to come up with a "decent solution" for millennia until they actually learned what the flu was and could prove it exists. How long before "executing victims" gets you executed? Remember, NOBODY understands what's going on in your scenario. No, this just moved into primarily opinion-based territory. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 31 '18 at 7:12

Impenetrable Ignorance

You can start by preemptively attempting to dumb down the entire country. The goal is to deter psychics by making minds not worth reading. You want them to roll their eyes and go "Ugh, why do I even bother? I'm never doing this again" because everyone around them is just that stupid.

To do so, butcher the education system. Make every school a Derek Zoolander Center for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Who Wanna Learn to Do Other Stuff Good Too. Flood the Internet with conspiracy theorists. Do everything you can to make journalists incompetent. Secretly lace food and drinks with chemicals that hinder brain development, if you have to. This should go down well with politicians; a gullible populace is easier to pander to.

If all goes well, anti-vax Flat Earther Deep State Derek Zoolanders will be the norm rather than a caricature. It helps to prevent idea implantation from influencing elections too, by making everything(even dumb, trivial or outright harmful policies) intensely personal to the average voter. It'd be an interesting challenge to change the minds of Latinos who are dead set on deporting themselves across the Mexican border.

Of course, deterrence doesn't stop all crime. This will also take time to put into effect, which brings us to the next part

The Whitehall Defence

You can 'encrypt' critical information by burying them in thick layers of obtruse minutiae and legalese(as demonstrated here). Psychics can't skim secrets off the top of your head if you don't know there's a secret in the first place. Then you can also chop them up and divvy up the secrets across multiple people. This will result in a bloated bureaucracy(more so than now) which should make it popular with the civil service crowd.


If you can't block psychic powers you can at least 'braineypot' them into attacking the wrong targets. This could be attempted through the use of body doubles that carry important-seeming but utterly useless information in their minds. Mechanical devices that simulate human brain activity with no actual meaning would also be useful here. With further R&D you could have yourself machines that broadcast mental white noise to blind/confuse psychics.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Dumb down the entire country? Really? $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 31 '18 at 7:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JBH given the absurdly strict limitations placed upon answers by OP, political satire is as good an answer as any... $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 31 '18 at 7:16
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn, That's a good point, but I didn't read this as satire. Nullpointer? Was this satire? If so, I'll gladly remove my downvote and my first comment. $\endgroup$ – JBH Aug 31 '18 at 7:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I suppose you could keep the downvote, but then again I happen to hold the view that if you have to point out something is satire then it has already failed at it. $\endgroup$ – nullpointer Aug 31 '18 at 7:32

I would suggest to interact with the public using these two ways:

  • Use a "puppet" government : the public think these people are the government while the real government tell the puppets what to say and how to act. The puppets know nothing until the last minute and what they know is very restrained. Basically, you would have people who only know the speech they will say. This way, these persons would not be worth reading and would actually have no power in terms of governance because they are fake government members.

  • Use web conference from an unknown location : you could interact with anyone but they would not know your position and, therefore, would not be able to read or control you. This would also use the 100m range limit since your are talking from a remote location.

To get more solutions, you should also invest in research concerning psychic abilities in order to be able to detect psychic interactions and, possibly, prevent them. You could also choose to develop psychic enhancers to create special units specialised in mind reading and mind control. That would allow you to shift the world in your favour more easily.

  • $\begingroup$ "Use a "puppet" government". As if the country is actually run from Washington... everyone knows it's run from Davos by the Bilderbergers, Illuminati and Reptilians! $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Aug 31 '18 at 7:31

Don't do anything different. Seriously.

Things worked out before. Spying and corruption has always been a thing. The method you are describing is not the best thing ever. Any major power already has several things in place that would stop the government from going mad and getting away with it. You can of course claim: They just influence more and more people then until all of them are compromised, but

a) At the risk of being redundant, things worked out before

b) You can always make up new stuff and powers that makes them so powerful that they are a real threat, but that leads me back to a) - Where were they before?

Let's look at the facts: There are very few people that have this ability. There are very few people that would even understand what a world leader is thinking. Spies are the best of the best, straight A students, geniuses and hard workers. They are one of a kind. Two very small subgroups, individuals with both capabilities should be extremely rare. And then, how do you even identify such an unlikely candidate? A smart person will not brag about having such powers.

The next thing is money. There is no money in this. Yes, the KGB worked without much money, but even they promised life in the rich West and everything the spy needs. There aren't really those ideological wars any more. You as the state leader are not the target - top CEOs of major companies are. We have already established that likely candidates are extra-super-rare. Why waste them on some, e.g., Theresa May character? So we know what she really thinks about the Queen? Please take note how irrelevant the Clinton E-Mail scandal was.

If you give in to paranoia and everyone being the enemy, you will be replaced as the leader and your nation loses. Of course, there are many things that can be done, even without psycho-terrorists. You can be kidnapped and tortured. You could be shot in your car for supporting the wrong people. Even without psychics, there are risks. If you let your government and country give in to fear and paranoia, you are in a strictly worse situation. This is extra true because of your constraint of not letting the public know.

Unless you have reason to believe this is an actual issue.

If you think that someone is reading minds, controlling people, leaking information, you must act. But how does it matter if they are psychic or not? The question then becomes: How to you catch a psycho-terrorist. But, again at the risk of being redundant, people already leak, spy and try to influence people. There are over 30 000 lobbyists in Brussels already, perfectly legal, trying to get politicians to do what they want. If you think that one (extremely rare and non-lucrative) psychic makes a difference, fine. Perhaps it does, but I would still use them for more interesting negotiations and not as a constant threat to the security of one nation. I believe they do that negotiation thing in one Star Trek episode


Why don't you recruit them?

You have just discovered an extremely valueable asset to you and your government. With just one psychic, you could make huge power plays if you aren't already on top of your government. Once you are the leader, you can use your psychics on other governments.

You could alter the objectives of your government leaders and their citizens. You could start a revolution, or convince a country to give you money. All of this could be done by driving a psychic across the street from the building they are in. Why not use your new power for good to prevent a warm with a rival nation?

In this scenario, I would let rumor spread that psychics exist and the government will protect psychics. Then, when people ask if that's true, you say that if there are psychics out there, you would keep them safe. The people will interpret that as you dismissing the rumors as fake, but the rumor will stick around. All the psychics will either hear the rumor or read the mind of someone thinking about it. Soon, you've got a bunch of mind readers/controllers at your doorstep just waiting to exchange political favors for protection from society. Sounds like a good trade to me.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.