back to article If whales can communicate by telepathy, why can't humans?

Also in this week's column: You think you know about the brain? Why do we like to scratch a wound when it's healing? If whales can communicate by telepathy, why can't humans? Asked by Amy Iverson of Terrey Hills, NSW, Australia Whales possess a form of communication that allows them to signal other whales hundreds of …


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  1. Hein Kruger

    Whale ESP?

    I'm no biologist, but as far as I'm aware whales communicate using low frequency sounds. I would expect that the whales are equipped with the sensory organs needed to hear these sounds. I hardly think that qualifies as extra sensory perception...

  2. snafu

    Ten seconds, the pain begins…

    From "Whales possess a form of communication that allows them to signal other whales hundreds of miles away. Some experts say it is indeed a form of telepathy. Does human telepathy exist?" to "If whales can communicate by telepathy, why can't humans?" to "While science says no to human telepathy now, perhaps there is much more to learn. Perhaps the whales may "communicate" a new truth someday.". OH, PLEASE!!!

    Could anyone do the right thing and give Mr. Stephen Juan some Cronenbergian telepathic scanning? My head is exploding after reading such old school psi-crap, so his should, too.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If !

    If little green men from alpha centauri can get around the galaxy at warp 9 why can't we ?

    Stupid premise, stupid article.

  4. Joce

    Ummm...whales can't communicate by telepathy.

    The article starts out with a false assumption then spends the rest of the page extrapolating it into outer space.

    Whales can indeed communicate over hundreds of miles, they use sound to do it.

    Sound isn't in any way "extra-sensory". Sound is a very ordinary sense that humans also have. We call it "hearing".

    With a bit of extra research he'd have seen that humans can also communicate via sound waves.

  5. itnh77

    Clever whales

    A quick googling shows that whales can hear sonar signals from hundreds of miles away, and unless I'm missing something I can only assume that whales communicate telepathically with sonar machines as well as their blubbery brethren.

  6. Jon


    Please cease posting non-scientific nonsense like this.

  7. fluffy

    I thought Dr. Juan was smarter than this

    The only "evidence" Juan cites for possible human telepathy is non-cited anecdotal evidence about people coincidentally thinking about someone else when something is happening to them, but considering that most people have things happening to them all the time, getting an inkling of something non-specific is pretty meaningless.

    Right now I'm thinking of my mother, and she's at her computer writing an article. That may or may not be true, but she's a science journalist so the chances of that being true are pretty high. If I were to call her and ask what she was doing, and she said she was at her computer, working on an article, would that be evidence of telepathy? Not really!

  8. John Pollard

    Reg readers are telepathic

    It is great to see that on reading this article, all Reg readers communicated the same thought to each other at the same time and then wrote in. What a relief that you lot our out there. I was wondering if it might be 1st April already when I read this article.

  9. Webster Phreaky

    Dr. Juan, NEXT GUEST BS Artist on Art Bell's Show!

    What a damn liar! There is NO EVIDENCE that Whales communicate in any other way than via their sonar soundings and touch. This is a blatant LIE! Look it up for yourself on any University Zoological reference!

    Dr. Juan, you are full of crap and have NO RELEVANCE TO REALITY!

  10. Matthew Barker

    Please remain calm...

    I'm frankly amused by the angry flames licking at the web page with

    Dr. Juan's article.

    Why so much anger? Has someone been killed by Dr Juan?

    Raped? Robbed? Their house burned down? Has Dr. Juan

    defrauded little old ladies, the weak and infirm?

    I don't see bibliographies posted either by Dr Juan or by any of the

    correspondents who have preceded me. "What? Of course they

    don't do that! It's preposterous" I think it's called proof by vigourous

    assertion. "You're wrong because I say so and I'm willing to go all incoherent to make my point."

    What I find usually works best is to resort to calm discourse. Something

    like, "Gee, Dr Juan, I'm a little puzzled because I've never heard of

    whales using ESP. Could you tell me where you got the information?"

    Since science is always making new discoveries (you do know that Bell's

    theorem was said to have been proved, don't you? Apparently the speed

    of light is no longer the did know that, didn't you?), it would

    seem sensible to take the approach of scientific inquiry.

    When one starts off with a sentence like, "Dr Juan, you're wrong

    and you probably eat babies dipped in ketchup because you say such

    useless things!", then I don't think we get to find out if there're any

    new or real scientific studies behind the statements.

    For instance, maybe there have recently been noted levels of

    communication unaccounted for by low frequency sonar. Perhaps

    someone has posited the possibility of ESP or perhaps it's been

    put forth as the only imaginable "hypothesis" (you will have heard

    of those as well, I expect).








    Summary: Why don't you ask Dr Juan about where he got the information? It's OK to start a "dialogue". They're what happens

    when both sides communicate civilly. Usually someone even

    learns something.

  11. storng.bare.durid

    Matthew Barker...

    I am sure you said something worth reading there but due to my limited attention span I did not feel like wading through your turgid prose.

    Let's just say Dr. Juan got pwnt fair and square and you seem to be some sort of hippy care bear whatever.

    As you can see I'm not adding much more into this discourse but ad hominem attacks. Well, it's not like this is 'Nature'.

    Chill out hippy. Have some fun. Flame someone FFS.

  12. david


    As has been said here whales communicate via sound not telepathy.

    Also that telepathy violates the laws of physics? maybe, but quantum entanglement allows the state of subatomic particles to be paired simultaneously regardless of time or distance. This sort of hints at an underlying mechanism that might support it. Nor does it break the speed of light rule, it's simply taking a 'short-cut' through a higher dimension.

  13. snafu

    Song and dance routine

    The reason for the anger is easy: this is just too old and tired! Get an interested metaphor (whale comms are like ESP) with a certain New Age touch (whales and dolphins, you know, are SO SMART and peaceful and pretty and aquatic and Atlantis ohmygod. Nobody cares for, say, elephants' infrasonic "ESP", or dogs calls), sprinkle some Principle of non-Authority and suddenly turn the metaphor into scientific inquiry ("Some experts say it is indeed a form of telepathy. Does human telepathy exist?"), then go for the anecdotal non-evidence, try some explanations for this non-phenomenon, cite the classics (Rhine, a known fool), lend them some escape route from utter ridiculousness and finally, when all results point to the inevitable conclusion, do the placation dance ("Science cannot completely rule out such unusual forms of human communication. ". Well, the same goes for polka dot-skinned winged fire breathing dragons, but then …). Sorry, no: of course it can rule it out, but then it wouldn't be such fun, I guess.

    And this is just the standard routine for softcore "science-with-a-touch-of-the-weird populariser", oh so actually close to the "just nuts with an aura of seriousness, niceness and a bit of all-against-me, the future Einstein" out there, the Sheldrakes and such. This hasn't changed a bit for decades.

    here in Spain we must suffer some of these having their own "serious" television show, painfully watching real scientists and technologists enduring the all too Brownian question list and answer interpretation with utter perplexity. This, and Discovery Channel putting ghosts and UFO stories is just…

  14. Tom Richards


    Matthew Barker, you're right about one thing: it's not worth wasting emotion over this. Honestly, though, whale telepathy? What Journal of Holistic Positivity did he get this load from? Killfiled, and the Reg should just syndicate The Straight Dope.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The issue:

    Mr. Barker - if I may: The reason people are upset is that when people with real or claimed-real scientific credentials, or people who spend the majority of their time in real science, repeat tripe like this, it weakens the entire field of science.

    When you weaken the field of science, you weaken the proof that you cannot cure AIDS by having sex with a virgin.

    You weaken the validity of the stem cell research that may save us from Alzheimer's.

    The issue, unspoken and angrily articulated as it is, is far more than just, "Oh, he's not hurting anyone" - he is hurting someone. He's hurting EVERYONE by taking wild speculation as fact and failing to question unproven and unprovable assertions, he's weaking the reputation of science itself and thus the foundation of the science that's helped us move beyond 20-year lifespans and brutal medicine, among other things.

    He may not have burned down anyone's house, but harm to others takes many forms.

  16. Matthew Barker

    As has been said...

    "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

    Note: this is only a humourous reference to a Monty Python sketch...I'm drawing a parallel, but only for a sense of mirth and merriment. Fiddling in my

    house while Science burns down around me.

  17. Paul Murray


    For the past several years, the James Randi Education foundation has offered a prize of $1M to anyone who can demonstrate any sort of psychic or supernatural ability whatever.

    The money is, as yet, untaken.

  18. Douglas Belford

    quantum entanglement

    the laws of physics have already had to be modified to allow action at a distance. It was just Einsteins religious convictions that led him to sneer at quantum physics. after all, action at a distance requires a recasting of 'free will'. But who cares? As a part of the system I can't tell the difference between free will and fate - nor can anyone else.

    Douglas Belford

  19. Ian Damage

    Use your brains

    I think a lot of you folk missed some things.

    1) Doc Juan never once stated that whales, nor humans, possessed any form of ESP. What he does do, is explain how AT THE MOMENT, is cannot be proven to exist. And like any good scientist, he does not immediately dismiss it due to lack of proof, rather, he admits to the vagueness of the subject and leaves it open.

    He did let the team down by not addressing the "whales have esp" issue from the start tho.

    2) It was the dozy mole Amy who claimed whales had ESP. I thought our education system in Australia was good enough to weed such thoughts out, but then again, North Shore 90210 wannabees have never been renowned for their intelligence. Aim your tirades at the dope who asked the question, not the one who answered.

    To sum up...

  20. Ben Shurey

    Spot on Mr. Barker

    Comments pages are rife with spotty little anger merchants who seem to spend their spare time getting indignant.

    Seems like if you open up a comment facility you are just asking for your site to be littered with screaming incoherence.

    I was a little surprised by the lack of footnotes to support the premise that some are claiming ESP in Whales but I didn't immedietely feel that we needed to hang Dr Juan's head on the closest pike.

    Grow up children.

  21. Martin Owens


    It's worth not getting involved in dogma (esp doesn't exist) and sticking to open minded candidness (there is no proof that esp exists, but I don't really care so I won't attempt to prove it)

    Nothing wrong with no giving a rats about a subject, but saying something so definitively requires some proof. like the ultimate theory of everything would be nice.

  22. AndyT

    But... it's silly!

    The title of this article is "If whales can communicate by telepathy, why can't humans?". The contents of the article should have been "They can't. Don't be silly."

    I've got nothing personal against Doc Juan, and it's refreshing to see a smidge of non-IT stuff on the site. But there is so much gullible reporting in the world of IT, that I rely on El Reg to be a bastion of cynicism in an otherwise credulous world.

    Or, to put it another way (less poncy), doesn't the Vulture lose the moral authority to take the piss out of Captain Cyborg when this sort of thing is on the front page?

  23. Colin Jackson


    Hey, leave the good doctor alone. He took the time to answer my question on frigidity, and the answer proved very useful in my divorce settlement.

  24. amanfromMars

    AIintelligence lacking in Leadership readership

    By Alan

    Posted Saturday 10th February 2007 14:44 GMT

    If little green men from alpha centauri can get around the galaxy at warp 9 why can't we ?

    Stupid premise, stupid article.


    Yes, well, it is only because of one's own Lack of Perception that one remains a lackey to the Status Quo Management of Perception.

    However, do not despair, for those who are able to communicate at altogether different levels, and I will not be presumptuous and say that they are higher levels, for they necessarily would need to communicate with and at lower levels too, and we would want to ruffle some of those delusionally arrogant feathers now would we, are well enough advanced to utilise their media vehicles and also to invite them to investigate such Alternate Intelligent Communication phenomena further.

    Good day, The Register, have aliens been in touch with Dr.Juan with muses to Advance Intelligence Artificially? Or is IT only aman from a Heavy MetAI MOD Ministry pondering UltiMate Great Games Theory?

    Boldly Going ...with all that jazzy AjaXXXXastuff for High Rock and Rollers?

    If you had any inside information you might like to rattle Prof. .Pillinger's cage at ESA and ESA at Noordwijk too....... for the dDutch Perspective Macro on the Micro-Management of Perception .........

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