Friday, May 29, 2015

Chirs Hadfield on The Overview Effect

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield has flown a space shuttle to Mir and stayed aboard the International Space Station where he created a series of popular YouTube videos, including one in which he sang David Bowie's classic song "Space Oddity." Hadfield is now retired but recently gave an interview to BBC Travel's Jim Benning. The most moving part of the interview was when Benning asked Hadfield if his time in space looking down on the planet has increased his desire to see more of the earth by traveling and visiting far-flung locales. Hadfield's beautiful, heart-felt answer references The Overview Effect, something I have written about several times here on "Oh, By The Way" (most notably here and here).

Astronaut Chris Hadfield conducts a "fit check" inside the Soyuz TMA-07M spacecraft (Photo credit: NASA/Victor Zelentsov)

"It’s not so much my wanderlust that’s changed, it’s more a respect for the absolute commonality of the human experience. Yes, there’s a strong local influence – our own history and culture and sets of laws – but when you go around the world every 92 minutes, the sameness overwhelms the differences. The repeated pattern of human habitation. How we set up cities. How that pattern looks whether it’s a city in Alberta or Africa or Australia. You’re passing over Canada and in 20 minutes you’re over Africa. You see the commonalities much more strongly than you see the differences.

I think that is actually the reality of the world – the shared common nature of our experience. We tend to exaggerate our differences and become extremely used to our own set of biases. But travel teaches you the shared nature of being human. And it’s extremely important, because so much of our bad decision-making – at personal, business, national and planetary levels – is driven by myopia and a lack of understanding of anything beyond our normal confines. The more people can see of the world, the better their decision-making will be."

Read the entire original interview at:

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