How the Overview Effect Can Create Lasting Change on Earth — The DGBM Taylor Family Foundation

The Overview Effect refers to the shift in perception experienced by astronauts when viewing the Earth from space. By staring down from a vantage point that makes the planet appear small, fragile, and suspended in a paper-thin atmosphere, astronauts gain a realization that everything on Earth is interconnected and devoid of national boundaries.

In its most extreme form, The Overview Effect triggers a cognitive shift that prioritizes the need to create a more unified global society which protects the planet and serves to unite all living things. It makes the many aspects of society that result in division seem trivial or secondary. The term itself comes from the book of the same name, The Overview Effect-Space Exploration and Human Evolution, written by space philosopher, Rhodes Scholar and author Frank White.

The Overview Effect in Their Words

Astronauts from around the world have been experiencing the Overview Effect for more than four decades, with around 570 individuals venturing into space in that time. Here are a few examples of the Overview Effect in their words:

Thomas Jones, Astronaut: “On my four space shuttle flights [. . .] I struggled constantly to make sense of an avalanche of new sensations and perceptions.”

Edward Gibson, Science Pilot: “You see how diminutive your life and concerns are compared to other things in the universe [. . .] The result is that you enjoy the life that is before you [. . .] It allows you to have inner peace.”

Anousheh Ansari, Space Tourist: “The actual experience exceeds all expectations and is something that’s hard to put to words [. . .] It sort of reduces things to a size that you think everything is manageable [. . .] All these things that may seem big and impossible [. . .] We can do this. Peace on Earth-No problem. It gives people that type of energy [. . .] that type of power.”

Oleg Makarov, Cosmonaut: “Something about the unexpectedness of this sight, its incompatibility with anything we have ever experienced on Earth elicits a deep emotional response [. . .] Suddenly, you get a feeling you’ve never had before [. . .] That you’re an inhabitant [. . .] of the Earth.”

How the Overview Effect Is Being Communicated on Earth

The Overview Institute, formerly known as the Overview Group, was established in 2008. Experts in the field of space, science, media and humanitarian services came together in an attempt to bring the Overview Effect to the public.

It offers all people the opportunity to experience this unique shift in perspective. The aim of the Institute is to see people use this shift to take the sort of positive action that can make lasting environmental and societal impacts.

Advances in Relaying the Overview Effect’s Message

As White writes in The Overview Effect: “The experience of the Earth as a unified whole is a powerful one [. . .] not [just] to space fliers alone, but to all of humanity. Now the question is, ‘How can larger numbers of people get that message?’” The Overview Institute focuses its efforts of relaying the Overview Effect in two key areas, both of which have made encouraging advances in recent times: space tourism and media.

Space tourism will soon allow passengers to experience the Overview Effect first-hand during suborbital expeditions. As space tourism becomes an ever-closer reality through companies like Virgin Galactica and Blue Origin-with the first test flights scheduled for 2020-it will offer tens of thousands of people the chance to gain this perspective shift.

While space tourism will take increasing numbers of people into space, the costs are prohibitive for the overwhelming majority. Seats are estimated to cost in the region of $250,000, at least for the foreseeable future. Therefore, replicating the Overview Effect through media technologies is of paramount importance to the Overview Institute.

In that regard, the advances of high-definition digital media, 3D simulation, and virtual reality-combined with other forms of entertainment, art, and education-are increasing the effectiveness of the Overview Effect’s replication on Earth. The more these media technologies develop and the greater the storytelling and presentations become, the better the Overview Effect can be replicated for those unable to venture into space.

Obstacles Facing the Overview Institute

Those who have experienced the Overview Effect speak of its power and stress the importance of sharing the shift with as many people as possible. It does face obstacles, however, both in terms of the practicality of delivering the Effect and resistance from within the space industry.

Space tourism and the ability to experience the Overview Effect first-hand-undoubtedly the most effective method-is seen as reserved for the super-rich. Eventually, prices will become more affordable, with some experts predicting tickets could one day cost between $10,000-$15,000. Even then, it will still be out of reach for most of the global population.

There has been some resistance to the space industry as a whole by leaders and members of the public. These individuals believe resources-whether financial, technological, or intellectual-would be better allocated to focusing directly on global issues. These issues include protecting the environment, engaging in international relations, and addressing the growing issue of income inequality.

However, the space movement has consistently been at the forefront of tackling global issues. It has been responsible for technological advances that have directly and positively impacted life on Earth. While the Overview Effect may seem an abstract concept, it can play its own important role in helping the space industry make critical advances on Earth.

Why Space for Humanity Has Partnered with the Overview Institute

Space for Humanity (S4H) shares many of its central values with the Overview Institute. These include democratizing the space industry and using it to develop solutions to tackle real world problems.

S4H’s core mission “to change the world by changing the perspective of everyday citizens” is directly in line with the ambitions of the Overview Institute. To support the Institute’s work, S4H promotes and supports the widespread experience of the Overview Effect, both through direct space travel and media platforms.

In November 2019, S4H established the Citizen Astronaut Programand opened applications to send successful applicants on an all-expenses-paid journey to experience the Overview Effect. Those who are selected will undertake leadership and communication training to relay their Overview experience and spread the message on Earth.

To do this, S4H is encouraging artists, entertainers, creators, educators, designers, and other media professionals to consider creating pieces of work that incorporate the Overview Effect and to embrace the challenge of bringing this phenomenon to the world. S4H will also use its industry influence to network with leaders to raise awareness and discuss the most effective ways to deliver the Overview Effect to the public.

The Overview Effect refers to the shift in perception experienced by astronauts when viewing the Earth from space. By staring down from a vantage point that makes the planet appear small, fragile, and suspended in a paper-thin atmosphere, astronauts gain a realization that everything on Earth is interconnected and devoid of national boundaries.

In its most extreme form, The Overview Effect triggers a cognitive shift that prioritizes the need to create a more unified global society which protects the planet and serves to unite all living things. It makes the many aspects of society that result in division seem trivial or secondary. The term itself comes from the book of the same name, The Overview Effect-Space Exploration and Human Evolution, written by space philosopher, Rhodes Scholar and author Frank White.

The Overview Effect in Their Words

Astronauts from around the world have been experiencing the Overview Effect for more than four decades, with around 570 individuals venturing into space in that time. Here are a few examples of the Overview Effect in their words:

Thomas Jones, Astronaut: “On my four space shuttle flights [. . .] I struggled constantly to make sense of an avalanche of new sensations and perceptions.”

Edward Gibson, Science Pilot: “You see how diminutive your life and concerns are compared to other things in the universe [. . .] The result is that you enjoy the life that is before you [. . .] It allows you to have inner peace.”

Anousheh Ansari, Space Tourist: “The actual experience exceeds all expectations and is something that’s hard to put to words [. . .] It sort of reduces things to a size that you think everything is manageable [. . .] All these things that may seem big and impossible [. . .] We can do this. Peace on Earth-No problem. It gives people that type of energy [. . .] that type of power.”

Oleg Makarov, Cosmonaut: “Something about the unexpectedness of this sight, its incompatibility with anything we have ever experienced on Earth elicits a deep emotional response [. . .] Suddenly, you get a feeling you’ve never had before [. . .] That you’re an inhabitant [. . .] of the Earth.”

How the Overview Effect Is Being Communicated on Earth

The Overview Institute, formerly known as the Overview Group, was established in 2008. Experts in the field of space, science, media and humanitarian services came together in an attempt to bring the Overview Effect to the public.

It offers all people the opportunity to experience this unique shift in perspective. The aim of the Institute is to see people use this shift to take the sort of positive action that can make lasting environmental and societal impacts.

Advances in Relaying the Overview Effect’s Message

As White writes in The Overview Effect: “The experience of the Earth as a unified whole is a powerful one [. . .] not [just] to space fliers alone, but to all of humanity. Now the question is, ‘How can larger numbers of people get that message?’” The Overview Institute focuses its efforts of relaying the Overview Effect in two key areas, both of which have made encouraging advances in recent times: space tourism and media.

Space tourism will soon allow passengers to experience the Overview Effect first-hand during suborbital expeditions. As space tourism becomes an ever-closer reality through companies like Virgin Galactica and Blue Origin-with the first test flights scheduled for 2020-it will offer tens of thousands of people the chance to gain this perspective shift.

While space tourism will take increasing numbers of people into space, the costs are prohibitive for the overwhelming majority. Seats are estimated to cost in the region of $250,000, at least for the foreseeable future. Therefore, replicating the Overview Effect through media technologies is of paramount importance to the Overview Institute.

In that regard, the advances of high-definition digital media, 3D simulation, and virtual reality-combined with other forms of entertainment, art, and education-are increasing the effectiveness of the Overview Effect’s replication on Earth. The more these media technologies develop and the greater the storytelling and presentations become, the better the Overview Effect can be replicated for those unable to venture into space.

Obstacles Facing the Overview Institute

Those who have experienced the Overview Effect speak of its power and stress the importance of sharing the shift with as many people as possible. It does face obstacles, however, both in terms of the practicality of delivering the Effect and resistance from within the space industry.

Space tourism and the ability to experience the Overview Effect first-hand-undoubtedly the most effective method-is seen as reserved for the super-rich. Eventually, prices will become more affordable, with some experts predicting tickets could one day cost between $10,000-$15,000. Even then, it will still be out of reach for most of the global population.

There has been some resistance to the space industry as a whole by leaders and members of the public. These individuals believe resources-whether financial, technological, or intellectual-would be better allocated to focusing directly on global issues. These issues include protecting the environment, engaging in international relations, and addressing the growing issue of income inequality.

However, the space movement has consistently been at the forefront of tackling global issues. It has been responsible for technological advances that have directly and positively impacted life on Earth. While the Overview Effect may seem an abstract concept, it can play its own important role in helping the space industry make critical advances on Earth.

Why Space for Humanity Has Partnered with the Overview Institute

Space for Humanity (S4H) shares many of its central values with the Overview Institute. These include democratizing the space industry and using it to develop solutions to tackle real world problems.

S4H’s core mission “to change the world by changing the perspective of everyday citizens” is directly in line with the ambitions of the Overview Institute. To support the Institute’s work, S4H promotes and supports the widespread experience of the Overview Effect, both through direct space travel and media platforms.

In November 2019, S4H established the Citizen Astronaut Programand opened applications to send successful applicants on an all-expenses-paid journey to experience the Overview Effect. Those who are selected will undertake leadership and communication training to relay their Overview experience and spread the message on Earth.

To do this, S4H is encouraging artists, entertainers, creators, educators, designers, and other media professionals to consider creating pieces of work that incorporate the Overview Effect and to embrace the challenge of bringing this phenomenon to the world. S4H will also use its industry influence to network with leaders to raise awareness and discuss the most effective ways to deliver the Overview Effect to the public.

Originally published at Dylan Taylor’s Family Foundation on April 6, 2020.

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Dylan Taylor

Dylan Taylor

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Dylan Taylor is a global business leader and philanthropist. He is an active pioneer in the space exploration industry