Get Everything In Writing

Psychologists at Washington University report that
  the memory function of people in their mid-60s and up is easily swayed by the
  power of suggestion, making them more vulnerable to memory-related scams. A
  full report appears in the May issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology
  (JEP): General,
which is published by the American Psychological Association.

For example, an unscrupulous contractor can tell an older customer, “I
  told you it would cost [a much higher price than was originally quoted] and
  you agreed to pay!‚Äù Without a written estimate, the customer is likely
  to ‚Äúremember‚Äù it that way, too, and be overcharged. Another scam,
  ‚Äúyou forgot to pay me,‚Äù also underscores the need for written receipts.
  Some con artists even run their own rudimentary memory tests on the elderly,
  checking to see if their memory is bad enough to make them good victims.

Get the full story here.

My own experience (of being on the receiving rather than the perpetrating end) suggests that you don’t have to be that old to not always remember clearly what was said – just being preoccupied with something else and not giving something your full attention will do it.

Consciousness in a nutshell

What is consciousness? The best summary I’ve found of where we are up to in understanding this is an article by Susan Blackmore. Susan brings an extra dimension to her understanding – as well as being a psychologist, she is also practises Zen meditation (though she says "I am not a Buddhist", and has experimented with psychedelic drugs.

After discovering her fascinating site, I will definitely be reading her book The Meme Machine (click here for the US version) – review to follow soon!

One perspective she doesn’t mention is Ken Wilber’s Four Quadrants model, in which subjective experience is a different, yet linked, realm to the objective world studied by science. In this model, the sense of self is not reducible to the physical functions of the brain (as most researchers into consciousness in the neuroscience field believe) but they are linked. Makes sense to me.

Most of the information about Wilber’s ideas on the web get very complicated and jargonised very quickly – why I’m not sure. The most accessible description of the basic model is here.