The overview effect

Floating in darkness
Floating in darkness

Can space travel – at least orbiting the Earth – cause cognitive shifts? Really be transformative – have lasting impact? [1]

Generally, studies note variability in the experience. And not all astronauts experience the overview effect.

(Wiki) Author [“space philosopher”] Frank White, who in the 1980s coined the term overview effect after interviewing many astronauts, …

Yaden et al. observed that cultural differences, including differences in religious and social identity, affect the ways in which the effect is experienced and interpreted. Expressions range from the religious, to the “vaguely spiritual”, to the naturalistic, to calls to social duty.

Wiki even notes that there’s some research on whether immersive virtual reality simulations might “induce the overview effect in earthbound participants.”

This Big Think article is a personal perspective by astronaut Ron Garan.

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Gaslighting – word of the year


I’ve read online articles about gaslighting. By publishers such as Psychology Today, Washington Post, Wired, Huffpost. Hopefully most everyone understands what this is about – in personal & social relationships, corporate PR, and politics. Misleading communications, misinformation, manipulation, abuse.

As Carl Sagan discussed regarding critical thinking skills, a good “baloney detection kit” protects against false narratives, especially in unequal power relationships.

This article includes some historical recap. As well as mentioning the rest of the year’s Top 10 words.

• AP News > “‘Gaslighting’ is Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2022” by LEANNE ITALIE (November 28, 2022)

(quote) Merriam-Webster’s top definition for gaslighting is the psychological manipulation of a person, usually over an extended period of time, that “causes the victim to question the validity of their own thoughts, perception of reality, or memories and typically leads to confusion, loss of confidence and self-esteem, uncertainty of one’s emotional or mental stability, and a dependency on the perpetrator.”

“It’s a word that has risen so quickly in the English language, and especially in the last four years, that it actually came as a surprise to me and to many of us,” said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large, in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press ahead of Monday’s unveiling.

Generational battles

The notion that the battles of prior generations are “won” for the next – just doesn’t happen. The battles over civil rights, women’s rights, … realizing the dream of the Constitution. A long slog, a forever journey. An evolution of minds, hearts, … and habits.

And sometimes conflicts are not so much won as just left behind by succeeding generations (without necessarily any linear progress either).

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Two sides to every argument?

“If there are two sides to every argument – or, more to the point, if there are people willing to take up two sides to every argument – they both must be right or, at least, equally valid.” (1)

So, on any particular subject or topic, there may be two or more opinions. Today I’d trust that no one (hmm) believes that the earth is flat (2); so, let’s rule that out as subject to opinion.

Continue reading Two sides to every argument?

Up is down, down is up

“Religion is in the box where science used to be. Politics is on the shelf where you thought you left science the previous afternoon. Entertainment seems to have been knocked over and spilled on everything.” – Charles P. Pierce, Idiot America (2009). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Personality Is Not Evidence

An arbitration is an informal hearing. That may be why attorneys believe that they can tell the arbitrator what they think they can prove through an expert at trial. Sometimes they ask the arbitrator to use his/her expertise as a substitute for expert evidence that should have been presented. An arbitration, as informal as if may be, is still a forum for litigating factual disputes. The arbitrator cannot speculate as to the brilliant testimony of an expert nor can s/he substitute his or her judgment on issues requiring expert testimony.

Statute of Limits Trap in Uninsured Motorist Claims

The new statute of limitations on personal injury actions sets a trap for the lax personal injury practitioner in auto injury cases. The statute of limitations on a personal injury action has recently been extended to two years. Up to this recent change, it had been one year for longer than most attorneys can remember. The new Cal. Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1 states, “Within two years: An action for assault, battery, or injury to, or for the death of, an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect of another. [EFFECTIVE 1/1/2003. Added September 10, 2002 (SB 688) (Chapter 448).]”

Experience Counts

I believe in Mediation for a very basic reason. I have seen the process at work, and it works. Like any other process it works best when you know how and when to use it. Based on my experiences with the process I believe that I can give some advise on both points. Having said that, you may ask what my experience is. The answer is that I have personally experienced mediation from all the positions you can occupy at the mediation table. As a certified mediator I have facilitated mediations. As an attorney, I have represented both plaintiffs and defendants in mediation. I have had problems of my own resolved in mediation. From this experience I have distilled five basic questions to ask to be sure that you get the most out of your next mediation experience.

Rules of the Game

Before starting an Arbitration Hearing, I have a conference with the attorneys. A principal reasons for that conference is to determine what rules the parties have agreed to follow in this arbitration. When I ask that question, in many cases, the body language of the attorneys indicates that they think I have no idea what I am asking. I go on to explain that there are many sets of rules for arbitration. The parties may, by agreement, adopt any sets of rules. I tell them that if I am going to referee a game, I need to know what game I am refereeing. There are different rules for football depending on whether it is NFL, college, or high school. Why not different rules for different arbitrations?


Musings about mediation were contributed by C. David Serena, who was an attorney in the private practice of law for more than thirty years. He was certified as a mediator through the L.A. County Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Service, and as a Court Annexed Arbitrator by the Nevada State Bar. He served exclusively as an arbitrator and/or a mediator through Judicate West.