Psion Communities

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I have been following the anti-psion thread here, and felt that a thread centered around the other side was needed.
With the exception of the Travellers, psions do not exist in a vacuum. Somebody had to offer your character psionic testing and training during chargen. There are whole psion communities out there, operating under the radar of the rabid anti-psions.
I try to imagine the shape of those communities: the genuine psions, the noisy charlatans, the Official Institutes which most psions would avoid because they're swarming with Impie spies clocking the clients going in and coming out.
The corporate-run institutes which only release their psions into the world with a solid gold slave yoke around their shoulders. What, you don't think GeDeCo and the others don't train corporate psions that they conveniently forget to tell His Imperial Majesty about?
Not to mention the grotesque way the palms-up military train the psions in their midst - remember, psionics are subtext for LGBTQIA+, and when Traveller was conceived in 1977 homophobia was rampant.
There's much to unpack. So let's start with ...
They Walk Among Us
Of course they do. The thing about psions is that, at least among humans, those with The Gift will always keep it quiet. Keeping calm in a teeming crowd of minds. all shouting behind the cages of their skulls, can be hard, but shielding is something they learn from a very early age.

You'd think that people would be aware of psions walking in their midst, but the vast press of people tend to be oblivious to psions. Sure, there might be some journalist once in a while with a bee in their bonnet, or a politico or influencer starting a campaign of anti-psi rhetoric for ratings and clout, but every "Ten Signs Your Daughter Could Be A Despised Telepath!" clickbait just gets the psions rolling their eyes and keeping their heads down for a few months, long enough for somebody to make that irritant ... disappear.

The thing about anti-psi bigots is that they are never any good at concealing their own dirty laundry, and anyone with a modicum of even plain old Investigate or Recon skill can dig it up, or maybe Advocate to present them with a gagging order, or Persuade to make them go away ...

So yes, you can safely assume that regular psions will be just part of the population, hiding in plain sight. Telepathy, and the Danger Sense Clairvoyance ability are handy, and psions learn to regularly scan their surroundings to scent out trouble in the vicinity.
The Useful Charlatans

I have to draw on some real life influences for this one. I have lived during a Golden Age of charlatans. I was brought up with the likes of Doris Stokes, Mystic Meg, Derek Acorah, and Kevin Carlyon - The King of The Witches.

They've all moved on to the next room, so I will not speak ill of them, but sometimes the most obvious psions are likely to be the ones operating out in the open, working for the news agencies, peddling their fortune telling on TV, the phone and the internet.

They are a most useful tool of the psion community, because anybody who comes along with a scowling, scrunched up little face full of spite, pointing fingers and screaming "J'Accuse!" can be gently deflected with scorn and ridicule. If your Traveller universe has public figures who kick up a lot of noise about their psychic talents and put on big shows to attract the media, or who run regular "Psychic Kevin" columns in the funny papers, you can always put down the would-be van Helsings with a smile and walk away, possibly texting your friends about the threat.

I mean, nobody expects telepaths to be using regular comms equipment like phones, commdots and public terminals like everybody else.
Within the Imperium, that would be like inviting a pitchfork wielding mob to hunt you down.

Or the cops.

They'd have to set up shop outside it's borders, and that means only the rich Imperium citizens can go and get a reading.
Witches lived among the baying mobs for decades. The last witch who got jailed in the UK for witchcraft was Helen Duncan - and she was only jailed because she'd accidentally revealed that a ship had been sunk in the Med (which turned out to be true, proving the Broken Clock hypothesis), and the government were scared that she might unwittingly uncover and disclose British military secrets, specifically D-Day, during WWII.

In 1941, she spoke with a deceased sailor from HMS Barham and revealed that the ship had been sunk in the Mediterranean, although the War Office did not officially release this fact until several months later. The wartime government had been trying to hush up the loss of 861 British seamen when the German U-boat U331 torpedoed the ship.

On the night of 19th January 1944, one of Helen’s séances was raided by police, in her then hometown of Portsmouth where the Royal Navy’s Home Fleet was based. Officers attempted to stop the ectoplasm issuing from Helen’s mouth, but failed. After some order had been restored, Helen was formally arrested.

It has been alleged that the real reason for the raid was due to the official paranoia surrounding the forthcoming D-Day Normandy landings and the fear that she may reveal the date, location and other details.

In one of the most sensational episodes in wartime Britain, Duncan was eventually brought to trial at the Old Bailey in London and became the last person to be prosecuted under the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which had not been used for more than a century. After a seven-day trial, she was sentenced to nine months in London’s Holloway Prison. She was even denied the right to appeal to the House of Lords.

As a result of the case, the Witchcraft Acts were finally repealed in 1951. A formal Act of Parliament three years later officially recognised spiritualism as a religion.

By the way, the repeal of the Witchcraft Acts in 1951 led directly to the birth of Gerald Gardner's Wicca. They'd been operating under the radar throughout the 20th century, and finally found the courage to come out of the broom closet when it was safe again.

And yes, Aleister Crowley was involved in shaping Wicca, though he never lived to see the repeal of the hated Witchcraft Acts.

So you can see, psions will be quite capable of operating under a regime which had active anti-psi laws on their statute books.

And no, there will not be howling mobs on every street corner. Those which do form are rare, blind, unguided, and often end up lynching innocents with not a shred of psychic ability to their name. Though a rampant mob would be a hilarious distraction to the Travellers during an adventure.
I would think that's the difference between today, and what Imperium society supposedly is like in three and a half millenia.

Currently, most people probably don't think about it, and if they do, they would be uncertain if psionic powers actually exist and/or work.

In the Imperium, it's a science, and the authorities have actively prejudiced it's exercise.
The psions have perfected psionics as a science.

The Imperium very likely had nothing to do with the development of psionics, just capitalised on its existence as a resource.
I would think that's the difference between today, and what Imperium society supposedly is like in three and a half millenia.

Currently, most people probably don't think about it, and if they do, they would be uncertain if psionic powers actually exist and/or work.

In the Imperium, it's a science, and the authorities have actively prejudiced it's exercise.

Remember, the Imperium is not the omnipresent, monolithic political entity it dreams of being. It can't control worlds even in its core subsector. How can it maintain order on the fringes? Even its propaganda machinery operates with obsolete and incomplete information. People will still tend not to think about psionics, any more than they do today.
One aspect to consider is if it is like drugs.

Are only the dealers and manufacturers persecuted, or do they go after the users, as well?

Psionic Abusers Anonymous
Within The Community

People can't help but form communities. Psions, in particular. Whether they are far enough from the authorities to allow themselves to be open, or they are forced to live under siege, you'll find psions huddling together for warmth, sharing their stories, their legends, their hopes, their dreams.

Despite what most people here think about psions, about them being anathema, about them being beaten, driven out of "righteous" societies, I can guarantee that the mundanes will only ever see maybe one psion in a thousand among them, even at their most rabid and vigilant.

The thing about populations living under siege is that they learn to hide, and they hide really well. Enclaves may be carefully hidden, but they are there, and they are havens for psions to let their guard down.

The point being, the harder the mob chases after them, the stronger and more entrenched the enemy becomes, until they get so good at it that they walk among the teeming deadhead masses with nobody even imagining that they're there.
One aspect to consider is if it is like drugs.

Are only the dealers and manufacturers persecuted, or do they go after the users, as well?

Psionic Abusers Anonymous
And there's where the retaliation from the community comes in, with public figures correcting the journalists on the word "abuse," because it's like persecuting someone for their faith. So the next thing you know, the word "abuse" disappears from the lexicon, except for the Drunk Racist Uncle whose rants spoil family reunions around the table on Emperor's Day.
OK, several things here.
I have my doubts about your thesis, Alex. Here's why:
1. I am an ally of the LGBTQ community. I won't say I understand all their issues because I don't. But the Alphabet Mafia are people and deserve to be treated as people, citizens, and human beings.
2. I don't know where the 'psionics as homosexual' allegory came from. I've been a Traveller fan for 50 years and I've never heard it described that way.
3. Let me point out that the 70s also saw the rise of alt-religions... New Age, Bahai'i, Wicca, Ashatrur, all these began their rise to notoriety in the late 60s and early 70s. And if I have to say so, they were just a persecuted in society as LGBTQ was.
3a] I have several friends to ascribe to alternative religions. While these are not my beliefs, it's no more my place to dictate someone's path to the Divine than it is for me to dictate who they should love. I have a great deal of respect for three or four of these practitioners.
4. There was a best-selling series of books based around the Inquisition-like persecution of medieval magicians that began publishing about the time that Traveller came out as well. Look up Kathryn Kurtz's 'Deryni' series [the Camber of Culdi books]
5] And let's not forget that Star Wars came out just about the same time as Traveller did as well. Traveller Psionics may just be the game's version of The Force and Vulcan Mind-Melds.
6] I mean no disrespect to anyone or their advocacy issues, but not everything needs be treated as a subtext for biases. To VERY loosely paraphrase Einstein, sometimes a goblin is just a goblin, not a thematic substitute for a protest.

Having said all that, it is my belief that if Traveller psionics was any kind of allegory to a social bias, it most likely relates to the alt-religion rather than LBGTQ.
But then, I may very well be wrong. I suppose we could ask MM directly about that.

As to the primary topic
I have absolutely no doubt that there are many communities of psions in the Third Imperium. After all, there is a possibility that every Hi Pop world might have a Psionic Institute.... and that's 85+% of the population of Third Imperium right there.
Within those communities, you're going to have the whole spectrum of human motivation from Imperial patriots who want to prove the naysayers wrong to organized crime based on psionics and every attitude in between.
These communities will have their codes of behavior based largely on the fear of being found out. Certainly there will be rules about 'outing' anyone, use of powers in public, use of powers for criminal activity, etc.
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I suspect that psionics was outlawed originally is to prevent it becoming the focus of the game.

I suspect that psionics was outlawed originally is to prevent it becoming the focus of the game.

I know. Like piracy, or worldbuilding, or the trade game.
The aim of Traveller is the travelling. And sometimes, people are motivated to run away from something more than towards something.
This gives psion Travellers a motivation to roam - the quest to seek out a paradise where they can find their peace.
Or to make that paradise for themselves.
This is the funny thing about Traveller's undercurrent of psion persecution.
Swap out telepathy for being left-handed, or having red hair.
Now you can begin to understand that the root of persecution of any minority in a roleplaying game is actually bigotry.
The target of this bigotry is fictional, sure, but the stink of the bigot is all too real.
I think it's something the publishers need to look into, not because the next generation will be all telepaths, but because the next generation will be able to smell the bovine excrement and maybe look for another game, where it's not so prevalent in the core rules.
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