Dr. Susan Blackmore is a researcher of consciousness and what she calls “extraordinary human experience,” which includes experiences often referred to as “paranormal,” including out of body experiences and alien abduction. She has a PhD in parapsychology from the University of Surrey, where she studied ESP and memory and eventually gave up belief in the paranormal and adopted a more skeptical worldview.
Blackmore was an important influence for me a few years ago when I was giving up on practicing magick because she had been through the same thing studying ESP: she researched it for years and determined that there wasn’t evidence to support her hypothesis. But she remained interested in “extraordinary human experience,” and showed me that it was possible to research and examine these issues from an open minded and respectful yet skeptical way. Blackmore considers these experiences an important part of the human condition worthy of our study and consideration, regardless of whether the causes are paranormal, psychological or neurological.
Apart from her ESP research, Blackmore is best known for developing Richard Dawkins’ idea of memes (which is a bit more involved than the terms’ common usage on the Internet today) in her book The Meme Machine.
Blackmore also speaks frequently on the topic of Zen and wrote the book 10 Zen Questions. She considers herself a practitioner of Zen but not of Buddhism.
Blackmore’s TED talk “Memes and Temes.” February 2008.Susan Blackmore: “The Grand Illusion of Consciousness” 2005 Skeptics Society Annual Conference: Brain, Mind and Consciousness.
Writings by Blackmore
Blackmore on why evolution by natural selection is her favorite deep, elegant or beautiful explanation January 2012
Will Timothy Leary’s papers turn us on to LSD? January 2011
There is no hiding with LSD March 2011
Who Am I? An autobiography, of sorts. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 2002.
Lucid Dreaming: Awake in Your Sleep? Skeptical Inquirer 1991
Alien Abduction New Scientist 1994.
Abduction by Aliens or Sleep Paralysis? Skeptical Inquirer, 1998.
Near-Death Experiences: In or out of the body?
In the service of science, not spin, The Guardian March 2010
Interviews with Blackmore
Mungbeing interview 2004?
Short interview on memetics 2006?
The Skeptics’ Guide To The Universe podcast interview Audio. 2007
Interview on memes 10 years after the publication of Meme Machine 2008
Wired interview on memes and temes 2008
Buddhist Geeks interview on Ten Zen Questions May 2009. Podcast and transcript.
The Death of Memetics Rant by Rachel Haywire on the state of Internet culture referencing Blackmore.