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The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution

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More than three decades ago, Frank White coined the term “Overview Effect” to describe the cognitive shift that results from the experience of viewing the Earth from space and in space, from orbit or on a lunar mission. He found that with great consistency, this experience profoundly affects space travelers’ worldviews—their perceptions of themselves, our planet, and our understanding of the future. White notes that astronauts know from direct experience what the rest of us know intellectually: we live on a planet that is like a natural spaceship moving through the universe at a high rate of speed. We are, in fact, the crew of “Spaceship Earth,” as Buckminster Fuller described our world.

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