Astronauts, Outer Space, and the Overview Effect — How Perspective Changes Everything
Why is it that astronauts, upon witnessing the earth from outer space, become systematically inclined to care deeply for the environment and man’s place within it? Many describe what they experience as a deep cognitive shift: from seeing the world as separate, disconnected parts, to seeing it as an interconnected whole. What is the psychology behind this shift, which Frank White calls the Overview Effect? How might this inform the way we view ourselves and our relationship with the natural environment? How does it change how we think about climate change, or the notion of environmental sustainability? Frank and Jisung discuss the many important facets of how our culture often induces us to view certain problems within a narrowly confined perspective, and how the Overview Effect and other similar cognitive shifts can make a world of difference.
“We went up as technicians and came down as humanitarians”
– Edgar Mitchell
OVERVIEW the film:
Frank White is the author of The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, first published in 1987 and re-issued in 1998. A member of the Harvard College Class of 1966, Frank graduated magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, earning an MPhil in 1969. He is the author or co-author of eight additional books on space exploration and the future, including The SETI Factor; Decision: Earth; Think About Space and March of the Millennia (both with Isaac Asimov), The Ice Chronicles (with Paul Mayewski), and Space Stories (with Kenneth J. Cox and Robbie Davis-Floyd). He also contributed chapters on the Overview Effect to four recently published books on space exploration, Return to the Moon, Beyond Earth, Living in Space, and Space Commerce.
Frank has spoken at numerous conferences on space exploration and space development. In 1988, he delivered the keynote address at the International Space Development Conference in Denver. In 1989, he spoke at George Washington University to mark the 20th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. He also delivered the keynote address at the first Overview Effect Conference in 2007.
Claire Hamlett contributed to the production of this podcast.