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".
has done research on memes (which she wrote about in her popular
book The Meme Machine), evolutionary theory, consciousness, and
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
is now the partner of the television presenter and scientist Adam
is an active practitioner of Zen, although she identifies herself
as "not a Buddhist".
is an atheist who has criticized religion sharply, saying of religious
ideas: "I believe they are false".