Monday, October 5, 2009

Oh the times, They are a changing

My last entry was my farewell to summer and it now being October, I decided to welcome in Autumn. It was very cold for me today and I spent most of the day curled up reading, and finally getting around to e-mailing professors to try to get some research opportunities. And what do you know? It seems to have worked. Two professors e-mailed me back, interested in having me on board. This led me to wonder- why can't I ever take my own advice? I've been telling people to take chances, apply for everything and anything, try to get their foot in the door of their dream, but when it comes to myself, I hide. I graduated in May and it took this long to convince myself I'm smart and accomplished enough to have a professor want me as a research assistant. Of course now I'm stuck with the unpaid gigs that aren't exactly in my research area of depression. I suppose I could easily explain this psychologically- scared of failure, I waited until the last minute and now I can blame the fact that I waited until the last minute for the fact that i'm not getting awesome paid research assistant positions. And knowing that, why do I still do it? This question plagues me, but it alleviates me to know that i'm not the only one asking myself these kinds of questions. The British Psychological Research Digest just came out with its 150th issue and to celebrate they asked some of the world's leading psychologists a simple question: What's one nagging thing you still don't understand about yourself? They had to answer in 150 words and some of the answers are utter poetry. Answers stemmed from why can't we as psychologists avoid the cognitive biases which we study? to who am I really? My favorite is perhaps Dr. Sue Blackmoor's answer

I believe (although I’ve never seen it for myself) that inside my skull is a brain containing billions of neurons connected to each other in trillions of ways, with signals zooming about, setting off other signals, and generally creating massively complicated loops, coalitions, sustained patterns, and multiple parallel organised streams of information that combined together control the behaviour of this – my body. And that’s it. So how come I feel as though there is a conscious “me” as well? The oh-so-tempting idea that I am something else – a soul, a spirit, a mystical entity – is rubbish, although I once believed in it. This question nags at me so much that I have devoted most of my life to it – through research, writing, and thirty years of daily meditation. But I still don’t understand. And the more I look, the less substantial my own self seems to be. What is consciousness? And who is conscious? I really don’t know.

Nice. I suggest reading the whole thing (it's very short, as they are all 150 words or less) here

So I'm optimistic about these new prospects, and laughing at myself at the same time. Mostly, I feel good.

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