A poll by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion recently asked U.S. residents which superpower they would most like to have. 28 percent said they would like to have the ability to read people’s minds, the same proportion that said they would prefer the ability to time travel.
There is no question about it: reading minds is by far the most unethical power on the list. In fact, there is nothing ethical about reading minds, which is a violation of individual privacy and autonomy, disrespectful, unfair, and primarily useful for unethical purposes, like manipulating the behavior of others. It is an inherent violation of the Golden Rule, and uses other human beings for the mindreader’s benefit.
The fact that so many Americans would choose this power (the other options, other than time travel, were flying, invisibility, and the ability to teleport) is an indication, I think, of declining trust and trustworthiness, increasing suspicion and fear, selfishness, and a callous disregard for the rights of others. No wonder time travel is the co-favorite. People want to go back to a time when we could trust each other.