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Vulcans are said to be natural telepaths. But they continue to communicate with each other through speech, even when telepathy would give them a tactical advantage in many situations. It is also said that telepathy is a skill that a Vulcan needs to train for, but even Spock, who is half human, was able to use it to an extent. Tuvok too, who had difficulties controlling his mind as a child, used it with ease to communicate with an alien species in the Delta Quadrant.

So why are they always seen communicating with each other the same way humans do?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

I believe Vulcan's were natural telepaths, but had no real range; most of them were touch-telepaths. You may notice that every time you see Spock, Sarek, etc., use the 'Mind-Meld', they first touch the target in certain ways. (A few notable exceptions, like Spock influencing someone through a wall, required intense effort and concentration.)

An exception, of course, was Spock's brother from 'The Final Frontier', but he was just that; an exception. There were other exceptions, but it wasn't the norm, so it wasn't a common communication method.

From Memory Alpha,

The most famous aspect of the Vulcan brain was the inherent telepathic abilities, such as the Vulcan mind meld. Vulcans were natural touch-telepaths. Though considerable training was required to utilize this ability to the fullest (this would be performing the fal-tor-pan), simpler contacts did not require any concentration, training or even conscious knowledge of the act. (VOY: "Blood Fever")


Stronger minds were capable of non-contact telepathic projection and scanning, usually over short distances, (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark", "The Omega Glory"; VOY: "Random Thoughts", "Prey") but sometimes even over interstellar distances. (TOS: "The Immunity Syndrome"; Star Trek: The Motion Picture)

In general, though, touch-telepathy wouldn't be a very safe thing to use on an unknown being, and the touch aspect of it makes it impractical for general communication.

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It's also slow. If you just want to ask them to pop out to get some milk, it's best to do it verbally. – Wikis Apr 29 '12 at 15:51
Did you mean The Final Frontier? with regards to Spock's brother? – Jared Apr 29 '12 at 21:25
If I remember properly, when Spock went personally to Vyger (Voyager), he tried a short-distance telepatic contact and this way came to learn about Vyger's history (and the fact that it was originally Voyager...) – Yaztromo Apr 29 '12 at 21:49
@Jared - Yep; edited. Thanks. – K-H-W Apr 29 '12 at 23:51
@Yaztromo - Yep; that would be one of those few exceptions that required intense effort- it's doable, but hard, and not done casually. – K-H-W Apr 29 '12 at 23:53

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