Conveying it as “indifferent fact” is a difficult task but that’s exactly how it came across. Nothing in his tone or attitude struck me as even mildly out of place with that statement. He said it because he believed it and his rationality did not appear to be drug induced or the result of a mental breakdown.
‘And why should I believe that?’
‘Well’ he said, ‘why don’t you ask me a few questions. Anything you like, and see if the answers satisfy your skeptical mind?’
This is going to be a short conversation after all, I thought.
‘Who am I?’
‘Stottle. Harry Stottle, born August 10 1947, Bristol, England. Father Paul, Mother Mary. Educated Duke of Yorks Royal Military School 1960 67, Sandhurst and Oxford, PhD in Exobiology, failed rock singer, full time trade union activist for 10 years, latterly self employed computer programmer, web author and aspiring philosopher. Married to Michelle, American citizen, two children by a previous marriage. You’re returning home after what seems to have been a successful meeting with an investor interested in your proposed product tracking anti-forgery software and protocol and you ate a full english breakfast at the hotel this morning except that, as usual, you asked them to hold the revolting english sausages and give you some extra bacon. ‘
‘You’re not convinced. Hmmm… what would it take to convince you? May I have your permission for a telepathic link?’
‘Do you need my permission?’
‘Technically, no. Ethically, yes’
Might as well play along I thought. ‘OK – you have my permission. So convince me’
‘oh right! Your most secret password and its association’
A serious hacker might be able to obtain the password, but no one else and I mean
knows its association.
So how would you have played it?
I threw a few more questions about relatively insignificant but unpublished details of my life (like what my mother claims was the first word I ever spoke – apparently “armadillo”! (Don’t ask…)) but I was already pretty convinced. I knew there were only three possible explanations at this point.
Possibility One was that I was dreaming, hallucinating or hypnotized. Nobody’s figured out a test for that so, at the time I think that was my dominant feeling. It did not feel real at the time. More like I was in a play. Acting my lines. Since the event, however, continuing detailed memories of it, together with my contemporaneous notes, remain available, so unless the hallucination has continued to this day, I am now inclined to reject the hallucination hypothesis. Which leaves two others.
He could have been a true telepath. No documented evidence exists of anyone ever having such profound abilities to date but it was a possibility. It would have explained how he could know my best-kept secrets. The problem with that is that it doesn’t explain anything else! In particular it doesn’t account for the answers he proceeded to give to my later questions.
As Sherlock Holmes says, when you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.