A minority of humans awakened their psionic potential. I'm going to choose people with Asperger's for this question, because I like to write about my people.

We know that humans fear the unknown and probably we are going to end up like guinea pigs due to our low numbers. Or imprisoned at concentration camps. Let's say I managed to warn most of my people, but sadly our powers were discovered and now governments and religious groups around the world fear us.

We are constantly persecuted.

The psychic powers grant the ability to read the mind of others and know their true intentions. The most powerful psychics are able to melt the brain of a single target instantly at the range of 100 Meters.

Psychic power scales with intelligence.

How can we survive or even fight back if we band together?

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    $\begingroup$ How does the persecution work? Is there some kind of psionic scanner? Would just not using powers hide me from their grasp? $\endgroup$
    – nvoigt
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 12:40
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    $\begingroup$ Firstly, since 2013, Asperger's syndrome is classified as an autism spectrum disorder. That means that Asperger's is a form of High Functioning Autism. So the term 'High functioning Asperger's' doesn't have a clear psychological meaning. Also, why would these people be persecuted? It is not clear that modern society would start such a persecution, so you will need to explain why that would happen. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ Doesn't Aspergers in a way cripple the ability to read facial expressions etc.? Couldn't those affected simple learn to cope this disadvantage (and the likelyhood of being detected) by reading intention and interpreting that? This way detection would be prevented and everything's fine. I can't see large scale persecution for people who can kill you over 100m. Anyone can kill people at that range with a gun. Yet guns are legal to carry around in e.g. the US. $\endgroup$
    – Morfium
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 13:28
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    $\begingroup$ So your psychics cannot be scanned, cannot be traced to a murder if they wanted. So if every psychic doesn't tell some non psychic about it, why would some one else know? With mind reading you can tell if some else can do the same. Start a commune or monastery in a big city. Be kind, but only allow the ones with psychic powers to stay. Take a vow of silence, mind reading will do ;) Easy. (and make sure you have very good connections and relations with your neighbours). $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ The real question is how on earth they managed to end up discovered. I mean, finding one or two of them who are REALLY dumb or inexplicably fess up, then suspecting there may be more, yeah. But all the rest of us do is play with a stacked deck and just don't be obvious about it and we're fine. Err, rest of them I mean. Ya know. If we were real. They were real, even, ha! Silly me... $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 14:59

6 Answers 6


If low-level telepathy can in the very least learn intent, these espers could, through trial and error, learn what rhetoric best changes intent.

The persecution could be overcome by some publicity stunts with some of the more powerful ones reading the intent of the crowds and making persuasive speeches.

Then, of course, the same could be done through media types. A PR campaign and gaining the sympathy of as many people as possible to beat back the persecution would be necessary. Publish a strict code of conduct for your espers and enforce it. You want to get out ahead of your fears.

Since your people will be of higher than average IQ, push high visibility, benevolent roles that require education such as scientists and doctors. DON'T become insular, but integrated.

Persecution and scapegoating is easy when the persecuted group retreats to enclaves. It is far easier to hate "them" than it is to hate "doctor Bob".

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    $\begingroup$ The idea of reading peoples' minds to improve communication raises the interesting question of just how similar the espers would be to other people with Asperger's - would adding more tools to the social interaction toolbox offset the challenges that come with Asperger's? $\endgroup$
    – Ben S.
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @BenS. I have Asperger's and that's how I have dealt with it. I have a series of responses I have memorized for various social situations. I have learned them through trial and error. I merely extended that to having an additional power of observation, psychic powers. $\endgroup$
    – user20762
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ Makes sense. I guess my question wasn't whether the abilities would have an effect at all, but whether they would be so effective that they would produce a complete paradigm shift rather than simply being a useful tool. $\endgroup$
    – Ben S.
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 19:12

If it happened in todays World, your people could just move to the third World, they'd be viewed as maybe eccentric, but most foreigners are weird, no one cares because they have skills that are useful. Being socially reticent (unsure exactly what aspergers entails) is fine, they could set up expat communities of their own, again, no one would care.

There could be a bunch in my country right now for all I know. Lots of strange expats around, many of whom are more than likely not very welcome wherever they came from. So long as they stick to business and don't cause too much trouble they're not noticed. They rarely mix with the locals and keep to themselves.


Escaping Persecution

The abilities provided seem quite useful for this purpose - 100m isn't that far, but since (from what I understand) Asperger's is difficult to observe immediately from a distance (i.e., compared to skin color) it's plenty of room to notice someone approaching with hostile intent in most circumstances. The big question is whether they can distinguish the people who would be violent towards them before the person is actually aware that there's someone with Asperger's nearby.

If it's a very widespread persecution with very few sympathizers that would present more difficulties because you'd need to be find people willing to employ you, sell you food, etc. In that case, it seems likely those with Asperger's would try to form their own hidden communities in remote locations. Here you have the same difficulties that domestic abuse victims have - how do you reveal the location of a community to potential members without revealing it to anyone who would seek to destroy it? That's difficult, but people do manage it, and a lot of people would probably be satisfied that those with Asperger's were simply gone rather than feeling the need to eliminate them entirely. Some would undoubtedly pursue them, but their powers can most likely defend them.

Fighting Back

This is where things get really difficult. If you're talking about serious conflict on a large scale, then governments are going to start using real military hardware against you. 100m isn't enough to protect against a drone strike or a sniper, so you have no real defensive advantages from your powers.

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    $\begingroup$ Well, no defensive advantages apart from "the ability to read the mind of others and know their true intentions". That seems pretty defensively useful to me, especially if you plant a spy close enough to detect something like "hey the president is about to okay drone strikes on our base, we better move." $\endgroup$
    – jhocking
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ That's true, although from what I understand someone with Asperger's is going to have a hard time concealing that fact long enough to be an effective spy. $\endgroup$
    – Ben S.
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 16:10
  • $\begingroup$ He doesn't need to have direct access to people in power, just be close enough to use his powers. Of course in this world they'd probably start screening White house staff down to the janitors for Asperger's; thinking through that stuff is grist for the storytelling! $\endgroup$
    – jhocking
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 18:26
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    $\begingroup$ @jhocking Hypnosis of sleeper agents to learn the locations, post hypnotic suggestions to have the sleeper go in with good intent, and a trigger to communicate the information when they get back. Telepathy countered. $\endgroup$
    – user20762
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ hellooo they can read minds; that makes it trivial to know who is friendly. Except it doesn't protect you from 1) those who change their mind later [Sheridan was sympathetic to the TPs until one killed his nephew, then Sheridan gave a full report on 3 hidden enclaves to the Jack Boots] and 2) the Bad Actors/Black Flags [Lyta developed ESP after a 40 year career with the NSA, her love of country comes first, she reads the minds of TPs and reports to her handlers, even if the TPs detect her malicious intent they've already been scanned]. Not to mention the flat out indoctrinated with ESP. $\endgroup$
    – Ruscal
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 22:10

It is more likely the psychics are protected than hunted

These new abilities may be worrying to the general population but anyone looking at the bigger picture will want to ensure their psychics are looked after. Perhaps the message to the public is that the psychics will be detained but why would a government want to persecute a group of people who could be so useful and drive them into the arms of a more accepting country.

In the developed world there is usually some sort of database containing information on people with disabilities for benefits or some such. This would make knowing where they were a lot easier for the government to collect them before the mobs got to their doors.

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    $\begingroup$ Historically, governments have had atrocious records with regards to persecution, more often the actors than the defenders. As to why governments would persecute useful members of it's society, see Germany, circa 1930-1945 $\endgroup$
    – user20762
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 14:38
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    $\begingroup$ @RichardU Sure, it has happened in the past but there is a difference between good businessmen and someone who can read the thoughts of your opposition in negotiations. If your opposition has psychics and you don't you're at a much bigger disadvantage than if your opposition has Jews and you don't. I get that governments don't have a great track record but I think things would be different with such a huge difference between normal humans and the psychics. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ "will want to ensure their psychics are looked after" We agree there. :) Indeed they will be looked after and the best way is to secure them as in a secure place with limited to no contract. If they find this ... not to their liking then Drug them into pacification until you you need their ability then reduce the drug to the level that allows their ability to work but remain ... calm. The classification is called "National Asset" $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ @EnigmaMaitreya Or, treat them like EarthGov did in Babylon5. "The corps is mother, the coprs is father". $\endgroup$
    – user20762
    Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 19:29
  • $\begingroup$ @RichardU Shrug how did "Lyta Alexander" - babylon5.wikia.com/wiki/Lyta_Alexander - Didn't she more or less turn on the Corp (Bester) and work to free the others? AND to take all "Teeps" to a place of their own? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 26, 2017 at 20:00

Since Aspies aren't good at "reading people," reading thoughts and feelings of people may have the exact opposite effect.

In other words, you might not even know they have Asperger's especially if they have this ability from a young age, because they can use their abilities to compensate for having Asperger's.

They might start off being straight forward about it, but, Aspies aren't stupid. If they notice that people don't like their abilities or don't like when they mention what they can see, they'll adjust, they'll just seem a bit odd.

The most powerful psychics are able to melt the brain of a single target instantly at the range of 100 Meters.

That there is a preeettty good reason to fear anyone remotely like this. I am going to say that people will think this is a hoax or look for a more reasonable explaination. Unless there are a lot of deaths like this, in which case, yeaaah, I am kind of FOR finding your kind and making sure, at the very least, you don't breed. Because I have no idea when these powers manifest, and if a three year old throws a tantrum and heads start exploding...

So how do you escape persecution? You police your own, and track down those who have families, and monitor them, maybe training them and letting them know what to expect.

I would go ahead and lie to them and tell them that they will need a certain pill from you, otherwise there's a chance they might die so it's more likely to be reported.

Let's say I managed to warn most of my people, but sadly our powers were discovered and now governments and religious groups around the world fear us.

How, exactly? Just don't tell anyone and they never will know. But hey, that head explosion thing--I don't often stand behind religion, just going to say, it feels right, reasonable, and not at all insane to fear you.

How you do this will depend on two things: How detectable are you? and Do you have better information than the government does when it comes to tracking your kind down?

The answer to survival, whatever your answers might be, is to HIDE and find a way to track your own so that you can teach them to HIDE.

The answer to fighting back is to place people in society in order to gain information needed to keep your people hidden.

Unfortunately, "banding together" or meeting in one place in any way is likely to be a bad idea. Like the kind of bad idea that results in a building exploding. Because, you see, electronic surveillance, absent of people close to you, can get your hunters everything they need. You'd need cells, structured like any good resistance, and most of your people would not have contact with others (max 2 others, for a cell of 3).


So... first question: why would religious groups be opposed and which ones are they? Keep in mind that it's likely not a universally held belief and many people of faith do actively work to help people in crisis such as this. One of the reasons the then current Pope during WWII was rather silent on the issue of the Holocaust was because as the figure head of the religion, he was well aware that many Catholic Churches were working to get Jewish and dissidents out of territory held by fascist regimes. Had he been critical, he would have drawn attention to the churches operations, but by not publicly criticizing what was happening, he was given a wider berth by these regimes which would have lost public support if they harassed the majority religion in the area unduly. In fact, it's now widely believed millions of people escaped Nazi persecution with the aide of the Catholic Church in some form... some even taking a path through the Vatican itself.

Similarly, the underground railroad focused on word of mouth and given the fact that abolition politics was a big political divide in the United States at the time (and considering we had a civil war that included the single largest battle by all measure in the western hemisphere to date over it, I'd risk saying it's the biggest political divide in the United States of all time. Never Trump/Never Hilary is a friendly discourse compared to the vitrol on abolition) you were likely to know who was sympathetic to the plight of escaped slaves and could be relied upon to help them if there was a need. Most likely, telepathic communication would only make aide easier. As this is a modern setting, I'm assuming appealing to peoples sensabilities would be easy as many people are much more likely to call foul on governments that withhold human rights so blatantly.

As stated, though, you don't go into what you are hiding. How obvious are these powers and what are some tell tales that they could be in use? Also, given that there are ties to both intelligent and dangerous use, what is the portion of the population of these individuals that can say "you know what, we should be policed... not all of us are not going to do that!" They could work for the government looking for people... could they detect active psychic powers? Also, how much control does an individual have... a 100 meter radius of effect on brain melting is pretty large... what if they lose control and fry everyone in the area of effect without intent?

From a narrative standpoint you set this up pretty one sided in favor of the telepaths, but you have some pretty narrow views of the reaction. You assume that the government is going to be opposed to this not being policed in the worst ways possible, which is wrong, because psychics are all good people who would never do that. You also assume all people who are religous would be opposed to psychics existing because of some kind of doctrine (I can't even see what doctrine would specifically push that... hell, there might even be some people who worship psychics as proof of a diety(ies)).

I write this to point to a personal observation: Bigotry is the most ironic of human concepts: It does not favor one race, creed, religion, sex, sexuality, or capability above another nor below it. It poisons with equity. But most ironically, it shares this trait with tolerance.


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