While rare, it is known for some races to naturally develop telepathic abilities; however, due to the processes of evolution through natural selection, any species that does so cannot then go on to develop a sentient intelligence. The reason behind this is that the emergence of intelligence in species is, under usual circumstances, the result of a race that has become adept at generalized abilities, rather than specializing. They make up for a lack of natural strength, speed or in-built weaponry like that of a predator with a tendency towards curiosity and tool use, which they pass on to their descendants who become better tool users and so on. As a result of this adaptability, further biological evolution is mostly around the use of tools. By this point the race would be actively altering their environment to suit them; pounding and cooking food they couldn't normally chew or digest, building weapons to hunt, kill and defend themselves from animals that are naturally stronger, faster and far more dangerous than they.
When a creature naturally develops telepathic abilities through natural selection or mutation it cannot then become sentient as a natural telepath has no need to develop generalized tool use. If a predator can be telepathically sensed then convinced by its would-be prey that it is not there, then there is no need to develop weapons, and if prey can also be sensed and convinced to come to the predator then there's no need to develop hunting skills. In the same way that predators evolve teeth, claws and venom as in-built tools for direct action and thereby commit themselves to a specialization, natural telepaths also become committed to specialization and can never achieve sentience.
There have however been two known exceptions. The first being a type of bacteria discovered on an uncharted planet. A natural telepath, the microscopic lifeform had all the classic traits of individual neurons and had colonized deep in the planet’s upper crust, evolving with the other native lifeforms. Over the course of millions of years the planet-wide colony infected the other native forms, creating a symbiotic life cycle and taking root in their own neural relays until it eventually reached a kind of critical mass until all the lifeforms were controlled and answerable to the greater biomass. While on their own, no individual creature was sentient, the combined thoughts of every plant, insect and animal linked in a "telesymbiosis" with the bacteria brought about a hive consciousness. The whole planet effectively became a unified organism; flowers telling insects when to pollinate them, wounded animals alerting carrion eaters so the meat isn't wasted and so on. Eventually however, alien races arrived on the planet and, not suspecting what they were walking into began colonizing the planet, cutting down forests, killing animals for food and otherwise disrupting the order that had existed for millennia. The bacteria responded the way any large organism responds to a foreign infection, by becoming stronger and imposing its telesymbiosis on the aliens. Making them lost in telepathic illusion and eventually starving to death. This cycle kept up until 2262 when Lyta Alexander and G'Kar arrived on the world, tracking the course of an abandoned Psi Corps mothership. Eventually seeing through the illusion, Alexander, with her enhanced abilities was able to overload the bacteria's neural links, effectively crippling the hive mind.
Another exception would seem to be in the form of races such as the First Ones and the extra-dimensional "Thirdspace Aliens". However in the case of the First Ones there is no way of knowing the extent of their telepathy or if it came to them naturally at all and in the case of the Thirdspace Aliens, so little is known about either them or the dimension they are from that it is impossible to tell how, if at all any known laws of biology or evolution could apply.
The gene for telepathy that exists in many sentient races was artificially introduced by the Vorlons over the course of centuries. The purpose being to create weapons against the Shadows' Organic Technology.
Since sentient races cannot naturally evolve telepathic abilities and naturally evolved telepathy precludes sentience, the only way to create the sentient telepathic weapons the Vorlons desired was to develop the two traits separately and later combine them artificially. The Vorlons went about creating telepaths on a hundred worlds by first visiting a planet with promising yet primitive life-forms, taking genetic samples or individuals from those races (Homo erectus in the case of Earth), taking them back to their experimental station where they were cloned, bred, manipulated, experimented on and pushed towards an enhanced telepathic ability. The result was a population of docile, non-sentient humanoid creatures with staggeringly powerful telepathic abilities, at a level beyond which even the Vorlons could rate. Their function was to act as hosts for the telepath gene that could be extracted and gradually introduced into their sentient "cousin" races. When Kevin Vacit encountered them on the Vorlon experimental station in 2256, he dubbed them the Nephilim, after the bastard offspring of angels and human women from Hebrew tradition. Like all Vorlon technology, the Nephilim, while incapable of any independent thought or problem solving, were conditioned to obey their creators.
The process happened at different rates on different worlds with various degrees of success and failure. The Narn, for example, had viable "weapons grade" telepaths as early as the First Shadow War, though that population was essentially wiped out despite the Vorlons assisting in driving the Shadows from the Narn Homeworld. The Abbai, on the other hand, produced a high percentage of individuals with Psi ability; however, it manifested mostly as a mild empathic sense.
The development process was to take place in roughly five stages, each stage being a higher level of enhanced telepathic ability. Telepaths as they emerged on Earth starting in the 22nd Century represented the third stage, while the Vorlon's enhancement of Lyta Alexander's abilities from a P5 to beyond that of even a P12 - the telepathic equivalent of a thermonuclear device - was still only step four; the true extent of their planned endgame remains uncertain. It is possible that a glimpse of the true genetic potential the Vorlons instilled was given in 2258 when the Psi Corps managed to artificially enhance the abilites of Jason Ironheart, far beyond that of any other known being, save perhaps Lorien.
While the Vorlons were able to create viable "weapons grade" telepaths within many races including the Centauri and Minbari, among them all humans produced the very best results, making them the Vorlons' pride and joy. Unfortunately for the Vorlons, however, the human telepaths did not cross the threshold until late in the 21st Century. This delayed emergence was compounded when in 2256, the Earth Alliance starship Icarus landed on Z'ha'dum, prematurely awakening the Shadows and setting in motion the Second Shadow War before the Vorlons were fully ready.
When that occurred, the Vorlons, fearing their "Nephilim" would fall into the hands of the Shadows and, since they had already fulfilled their purpose, they bombarded the planet on which they had been breeding them, apparently wiping out any useful traces of their creations. Unknown to them however, Kevin Vacit had landed on the world and with the use of the Vorlon fragment that he had carried with him most of his life was able to direct the Nephilim - ever eager to obey what they perceived as a Vorlon - to use their collective ability to fool the Vorlons into thinking they had succeeding in wiping out the millions of Nephilim scattered throughout the forests and savannas of their world. Though he was able to save only a few thousand, it was more than enough to exert a terrifying amount of telepathic pressure.
The first study to confirm the existence of human telepaths was Investigations into Biochemical Sensory Transmission by Duffy and Philen, June 2115. A sample population of 1,000 volunteer individuals was taken and tested for telepathic abilities. The tests included Zener cards, Black Box Randomizer and blind curtain tests. Overall twelve individuals demonstrated far above average results, with ten ranking statistically improbable and two testing consistently accurate. HCI and Dao demonstrated collateral brain activity between senders and receivers in the accurate test individuals. The initial 1,000 volunteers were increased to 5,000, resulting in an additional two consistently accurate individuals and another 13 statistically improbable number of positive results.
The authors of the study, two graduate students in neuropsychology from Harvard School of Medicine, began the research as a joke. It was a hazing ritual for first year students to research some of the most obscure topics in the most professional fashions. Fully expecting not to find anything the pair uncovered one of the greatest discoveries in human history.
It is unknown if the percentage of a species' telepath population is consistent for each race, but among humans in the twenty third century, one out of every one thousand humans has telepathic abilities. one out of every ten thousand human telepaths had telekinetic abilities, with half of them being clinically insane. Out of all of these, only 5% manifested their abilities prior to the onset of puberty.
It is known that telepaths are prone to eccentric dream behavior, such as walking in their sleep.
Telepaths have been known to experience discomfort scanning the minds of alien races.
Different races have different attitudes toward telepaths.
- Humans chose to regulate their telepaths through enforced registration with government sponsored organizations. Initially through the MRA and much later through the independently chartered Psi Corps. The Corps however became too powerful, oppressive and insular even to their own and following the Telepath War was disbanded and replaced by the Bureau of Telepath Integration, which attempted to re-integrate telepaths into human society, though some remnants of the old regime persisted.
- Minbari telepaths are honored and considered gifted. Much like True Seekers, they are provided for and allowed to use their abilities to follow their calling.
- The Centauri have a Telepath's Guild, which is a trade organization that hires telepaths for commercial purposes. During the reign of Emperor Turhan, two pairs of telepaths - all raised together and always connected - were employed to keep the Emperor connected to the Royal Court at all times by having two travel with the Emperor's entourage while the other two remained behind at the Palace. This tradition was abolished during the reign of Emperor Cartagia, who didn't approve to women knowing what he was thinking and had ordered them all killed. Perhaps unique among races with Psi ability, the Centauri have a tradition of accurate prophecy. This often takes the form of a Prophetess, honoured females with the gift to foresee possible future events. The Republic even has an official position of "Prophetess Supreme". Some claim that all Centauri have the ability to foresee the circumstances of their own death, usually through obscure, out of context dreams.
- All Abbai possess a telepathic ability in the form of a very limited empathic sense, with which they are able to sense the feeling of other sentients, though the ability tends to be more pronounced in females.
- The Narn once had a significant population of telepaths, or Mindwalkers as they are referred to in the Book of G'Quan. They and their families were all wiped out during the First Shadow War, essentially extinguishing the telepath gene from the Narn genome as no successive generation has managed to produce even a single telepath of acceptable strength. Exposure to the psi-amplifying drug Dust has proven that some Narn retain the latent potential for telepathy. The Narn Regime made a number of efforts to secure telepath DNA from other races, before succeeding in 2262 with a deal made with Lyta Alexander and the human Telepath Resistance. However it could take years before a genetic match could allow for a true Narn telepath to be bred.
Though an individual telepath's abilities varies depending on their training and the strength of their innate gift, most are able to at least pick up on the stray surface thoughts of others. Strong emotions are particularly hard to ignore. In crowded areas this often devolves into a deafening chatter and a teep must learn how to block it out. Psi Corps training on this employs a method where the telepath must repeat little songs and rhymes in their heads, round and round until their blocks reduce the deafening roar to a background hum.
To read beyond surface thoughts or to implant false memories or suggestions requires a scan where the subject's mind is actively contacted. This usually requires a line of sight and can often have a surprisingly long range.
Telepaths of sufficient strength can not only read minds but also actively project images and sounds, either memories or imagined images into the surface thoughts of teeps and mundanes. Psi Corps terminology refers to these as "glyphing" (visual) and "mindcasting" (verbal) and are basic skills of telepathy. Most teeps are able to both send and receive through a line of sight, though weaker telepaths (P1s or P2s) either struggle or require physical contact. A trained telepath should be able to distinguish a "glyph" from reality, though if enough strong telepaths work in unison, they can push past even a trained Psi Cop's barriers.
- The Nautilus Coil
- Genius Loci
- Z'ha'dum (episode)
- JMS post on CIS - 3/21/1996 7:53:00 AM
- JMS post on CIS - 3/22/1996 5:41:00 PM
- Babylon 5 Scripts - Other Voices: Vol 3 (Babylon 5 Alien Guide)
- Wheel of Fire
- Mind War
- Interludes and Examinations
- Dark Genesis - The Birth of the Psi Corps
- Deadly Relations - Bester Ascendant
- Thirdspace (movie)
- The Path of Sorrows
- The Well of Forever
- True Seeker (Short Story)
- Passing Through Gethsemane
- And the Rock Cried Out, No Hiding Place
- The Coming of Shadows
- Out of the Darkness
- Signs and Portents
- Point of No Return
- Shadow of His Thoughts
- Midnight on the Firing Line
- The Official Guide to Babylon 5 (CD ROM)
- Ship of Tears
- Dust to Dust
- The Gathering
- Darkness Ascending
- The Paragon of Animals
- A Race Through Dark Places
- Between the Darkness and the Light
- Psionics on Wikipedia
|Phased Plasma Guns|
|Auricon PPG Pistol · Westlake & Grummon PPG Pistol · Tho'val PPG pistol · Kalat PPG Pistol · Sha'ann PPG Pistol · Tromo PPG Pistol · Auricon PPG Rifle · Auricon PPG Sniper Rifle · Auricon PPG Assault Rifle · Tromo PPG Rifle · Centauri PPG Rifle|
|Denn'bok · Shock stick · Coutari · K'tok · Barrken · Minbari glove-knife · Drazi Blades · Graal · Electro-whip · Slaver's glove|
|Nano-virus · Drakh plague · Techno-mage nano-virus · Telepath · Morph Gas · Assassination device|
|Weapons of Mass Destruction:|
|Thermonuclear device · Mass driver · Vorlon planetkiller · Death Cloud|
|Energy mine · Perimeter mine · Blockade mine · Planetary defense grid · Slugthrower · Thermal Grenade · Hand-held Grenade Launcher|
|Michael Garibaldi's Smith & Wesson · Marcus Cole's pike · Londo Mollari's coutari · Ta'Lon's k'tok|