Research & Methodology

Before I came to SVA, I just started Isaac Asimov’s The Galactic Empire. The concept of Mentalic left me a long lasting impression.

“Mentalic” is a range of unusual psionic capabilities owned by the Second Foundationers in the story. People who have this ability can sense and adjust the emotions of humans, to influence their decision making. 

I’m so interested in this mysterious mental ability, partly because, first, this seems awesome; second, I took enough psychology classes in my undergrad to know our brain have some mysterious power, but I don’t know what are those. I even started to guess what inspired Asimov to create “Mentalic?” What’s the prototype of this ability?

So, in last summer I started my research on everything I thought are related to it.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the daydream. In movies like Little Princess and The Secret life of Walter Mitty, we always see daydreams as an unusual mental ability, which represents imagination and creativity. I listened to Ted talks about the daydream, read some psychology books talking about daydreams, and even found products that encourage their users to daydream.

What surprised me was that, in this society, people are trying so hard to stop themselves from mind wondering, and always want to be focused.

It seems perfectly reasonable. However, how do people think of this conflict? So I started several interviews asking this question to different people, including specialists from the area of game design, science fiction, virtual reality, psychology, and perfume. 

During the interviews, I learned about the suspension of disbelief, body memory, role switching and twisted reality, which directs me to focus on the way our mind works. 

After digging into books and theories about the mind, I gradually realized that, since the thrive of science and logic, we have been paying too much attention to our conscious and logical side of our brain. And we see rationality as a reliable ability, but the other kind of mental abilities as problems. But troubles arise when we only respect one of the two. 

Since nature gives us both kinds of power, shouldn’t we embrace both?