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Blackmore, Susan
"All things considered, I can see no reason to adopt the afterlife hypothesis. I am sure I shall remain in a minority for a long time to come, especially among experiencers, but for me the evidence and the arguments are overwhelming ... We are biological organisms, evolved in fascinating ways for no purpose at all and with no end in mind. We are simply here and this is how it is. I have no self and "I" own nothing. There is no one to die. There is just this moment, and now this, and now this."

-- Susan Blackmore


In 1973, Susan Blackmore graduated from St. Hilda's College, University of Oxford, with a BA (Hons) in psychology and physiology. She went on to do a postgraduate degree in environmental psychology at the University of Surrey, achieving an MSc in 1974. In 1980, she got her Ph.D. in parapsychology from the same university, her thesis being entitled "Extrasensory Perception as a Cognitive Process".

She has done research on memes (which she wrote about in her popular book The Meme Machine), evolutionary theory, consciousness, and the paranormal.

She has also appeared on television a number of times, discussing such paranormal phenomena as ghosts, ESP, and out-of-body experiences, in what she describes as the "unenviable role of Rentaskeptic", and she has also presented a show on alien abductions. Another programme which she has presented discusses the intelligence of apes. She also acted as one of the psychologists who featured on the British version of the television show "Big Brother", speaking about the psychological state of the contestants.

She was on the editorial board for the Journal of Memetics (an electronic journal) from 1997 to 2001, and has been a consulting editor of the Skeptical Inquirer since 1998.

Her latest book, Consciousness: An Introduction (2004), is a textbook that broadly covers the field of consciousness studies. In it she covers a wide variety of topics such as the mind-body problem, the hard problem of consciousness, philosophy of mind, Cognitive neuropsychology, cognitive science, artificial intelligence, evolution, parapsychology, altered states of consciousness, phenomenology, Buddhism, and meditation.

In sidebars of her book she has written brief profiles about various notable contributors to the field such as Daniel Dennett, John Searle, David Chalmers, Patricia Churchland, Francis Crick, Antonio Damasio, V.S. Ramachandran, John Carew Eccles, Rodney Brooks, Alan Turing, Francisco Varela, Rene Descartes, David Hume, William James, and the Buddha.

Memetics
Susan Blackmore has made contributions to the field of memetics, with works aimed at the layman, though her writings are lacking in scientific foundation and are more cultural study than psychology or neuroscience. The term meme was coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene and although the term has been widely used it is often misunderstood.

Blackmore's book The Meme Machine is perhaps the most thorough introduction to Memetics available. In his foreword to this work, Dawkins said "Any theory deserves to be given its best shot, and this is what Susan Blackmore has done for the theory of the meme." Much more scientific treatments can be found in the works of Robert Aunger, such as The Electric Meme.

Blackmore's treatment of memetics insists that memes are true evolutionary replicators, a second replicator that like genetics is subject to the Darwinian Algorithm and undergoes evolutionary change. Her prediction on the central role played by imitation as the cultural replicator and the neural structures that must be unique to our species necessary to support it have recently been confirm by research on mirror neurons and the differences in extent of these structures between humans and our closest ape relations.

In her work on memetics she has emphasized the role that Darwinian mechanisms play in cultural evolution and has helped develop the field of Universal Darwinism.

Personal life
In 1977, she married fellow academic Tom Troscianko, and they had two children: Emily Tamarisk Troscianko (born February 20, 1982), and Jolyon Tomasz Troscianko (born May 17, 1984).

She is now the partner of the television presenter and scientist Adam Hart-Davis.

Blackmore is an active practitioner of Zen, although she identifies herself as "not a Buddhist".

Blackmore is an atheist who has criticized religion sharply, saying of religious ideas: "I believe they are false".

 
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