Telepathy leads to end of human race

Changeman

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Feb 20, 2019
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I am searching for a short story that I read in the mid sixties but I am pretty certain that it was many years old by that time. The premise of the story was that the human race had developed the ability to communicate telepathetically. However, this meant that negative thoughts about people were communicated to them when in previous eras they would never have been spoken aloud. As a consequence, suicide became commonplace and the only survivor of the human race was a man who had gone to live in a cave. He survived because nobody knew of his existence and therefore nobody had negative thoughts about him. I'm afraid that I cannot offer any more practical information such as publisher etc. This is something that I have dredged up from my memory from about 50 years ago and feels pertinent to our current age of social media, trolls etc. Thank you for your help.
 

Cinderfall

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Nov 12, 2018
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I'm pretty sure I know the story, I cannot remember the title though.
Additional info I remember:

Published in an anthology.

About twenty-thirty pages.

Fairly old sci fi feel (to me anyway). Heinlein/Bradbury kind of technology feel.

The setting is on Earth in the fairly near future, the planet is collapsing under the strain of humanity. The book opens with a conversation between a female scientist and a male astronaut (husband and wife I think) who are heading up opposing solutions to the global meltdown. The astronaut leaves to find new planets to colonise, whilst the scientist remains behind to finish an experiment in "telepathic energy emitters" which should increase humanity's empathy. The astronaut returns a century later due to relativity to find the situation you describe, one old man with a sniper rifle hunting telepathic animals. The experiment had worked too well, most of the human race had committed suicide (especially teens), and animals became hugely organised as lions hunted together etc. I believe the astronauts left again, as there was nothing of home left.
 

Cinderfall

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Ha it appears I suggested this before, no wonder it seemed familiar.

Maybe "The New Wine" by John Christopher?
 

mosaix

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I read the story too. Sorry, I can’t remember the title or the author but I was thinking about it only recently as I think it has great parallels with the advent of the internet. The negative thoughts that were communicated in the story are now done, anonymously, via the keyboard.
 

HareBrain

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I read the story too. Sorry, I can’t remember the title or the author but I was thinking about it only recently as I think it has great parallels with the advent of the internet. The negative thoughts that were communicated in the story are now done, anonymously, via the keyboard.
This comment feels very familiar, and makes me think this story has been the subject of a previous book search.
 
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