When I was 12, I lay in bed dwelling on the scary inevitability of death (as one does), and I was touched by this feeling of overwhelming love and of being cherished. A profoundly spiritual experience that seemed to prove the existence of God. At least it enabled me to go to sleep. The next day, I realized that the human brain was fully capable of constructing such an experience. This is not to say that it did. But it could have. Occam’s Razor: the best answer is the one that makes the fewest assumptions.
I’m a psychologist. I have always been a psychologist, as this anecdote demonstrates (when I was small I also used to classify people on the basis of the shape of their faces). Everything I think and write about is colored by this awareness that the human mind is capable of the most amazing feats of self-deception and illusion.
Alexander Pope wrote that “The proper study of mankind is man”, and that has always been the core around which all my other interests swirl. I’m fascinated by memory, what it means to be human (a broad topic encompassing evolution, the nature of the self, the nature of intelligence, and much more), and the nature of reality (string theory! M-branes! quantum! multiverses!). (The relationship of the nature of reality to the study of our psyche may be less obvious – but nothing can be studied outside of their context. Humans have a place, not just in the Earth community, but in the universe.) I am so grateful to live in times that allow us to think about these things in so much greater depth than we could in the past.
F.M. McPherson lives with her partner and their two sons in Wellington, New Zealand. She spends most of her time writing about memory improvement and study skills, maintaining an extensive website on memory, and putting out regular newsletters on this subject.