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Guest: Dr. Deana Weibel; Topics: Dr. Weibel's paper "The Overview Effect and the Ultraview Effect: How Extreme Experiences in/of Outer Space Influence Religious Beliefs in Astronauts." Additional related topics were introduced and discussed.
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We welcomed Dr. Deana Weibel back to the program to discuss her newly published paper, "The Overview Effect and the Ultraview Effect: How Extreme Experiences in/of Outer Space Influence Religious Beliefs in Astronauts" plus additional related topics. We started our one segment 76 minute discussion by having our guest introduce us to her article and the peer reviewed open source journal, Religions. Dr. Weibel's article can be found here: https://www.mdpi.com/2077-1444/11/8/418/htm. The Religions-Open Access Journal can be found here: https://www.mdpi.com/journal/religions. This link to the Religions home page will prove useful when wanting to read other published papers relating to religion and space development/exploration. Later in the program Dr. Weibel called our attention to a special issue of the journal titled "The Mutual Influence of Religion and Science in the Human Understanding and Exploration of Outer Space." This article is in progress and can be found at www.mdpi.com/journal/religions/special_issues/reli_space.
Dr. Weibel provided us with a few definitions starting with anthropology and cultural anthropology. I believe it to be important to pay special attention to what our guest said, especially in referencing human cultural characteristics and development plus religion throughout history. Listen to what she said about The Overview Effect and her research methodology for this paper. Note that most of the names of the people she interviewed were pseudo names at the request of those being interviewed. In total nine US astronauts were interviewed from Apollo, shuttle and ISS periods. Note the additional factors defining her study group including religion and later on gender. I personally found it interesting and worth discussing the fact that some astronauts were evangelical in their religious beliefs with a few suggesting creationism. I asked our guest how holding these beliefs worked with the science, engineering, and technology skills and training to be an astronaut. You might be surprised by how our guest responded to questions in this subject area. You might even want to comment by posting on our blog.
Throughout our discussion, Deana mentioned both the belief and effect of awe on people. Research points on awe were presented to us throughout most of our discussion. Our first caller, Fremont John, wanted to discuss the Ultraview Effect with our guest. As our guest explained it, the Ultraview Effect was rare, relating to seeing the Milky Way from the Moon's orbit while in the shadows without light. This Effect was reported as a "profound vision" seeing space from a perspective that by far most of us will never see or experience. This discussion soon led to an email question from Tim in Denver asking our guest what the astronauts did about their visions, spiritual insights, and changed views once they got back to Earth. Deana talked about some evangelizing space through public speaking, possibly spreading views about creation while others got involved or concerned with environmental issues having seen Earth as having a fragile environment. Deana named a few astronauts who had done that plus she talked about Dr. Ed Mitchell who initiated "Noetic Learning" based upon his space experiences. Our guest was asked about the role of NASA in astronauts speaking out once they returned from space. Most of what our guest said was that it was easier to discuss such topics with retired astronauts rather than those still serving on active duty. Make sure you hear all of what said in response to this question.
The gender issue came up as we were nearing the end of the program. Deana said she talked with two women for her article. Listen to what she said about what they talked about, including The Overview Effect and Awe. Also note what she said about praying and being spiritual in space.
A listener sent in a note asking if there was any thought or suggestion that God did not want us to be in space. Quite the contrary, our guest talked about biblical and global religious traditions suggesting "seeing" from space and believing that God wanted us to be in space. Even suggesting it was our duty to be in space. This led to an email question from Sherry in Seattle asking why this positive religious aspect of needing to be in space, i.e. human spaceflight, was not articulated in budget presentations in advocating more human spaceflight opportunities within NASA. Listen to what our guest said about likely science pushback along with other public agency pushback. Before we ended the program Deana said that would be more probable that the private sector would incorporate some part of the religious argument in their human spaceflight messaging than anything coming from the public sector. This was an excellent mini-discussion in our program so I encourage all of you to listen attentively, then post comments about it on our blog. We want to hear what you have to say on this matter.
Deana mentioned an organization doing prep training for space tourists and private sector astronauts to help them have the Overview Effect or a spiritual experience in their commercial spaceflight. I asked lots of questions about this and plan on inviting the person Deana talked about to the show as a guest. Check out the website, www.innerspacetraining.com. Dr. Mindy Howard who does this training was a Space Show guest back in 2013. We need an update from her regarding her work.
What I thought would be the last question for our guest dealt with spaceflight, even Overview Effect simulations through virtual reality (VR). We wanted to know if the spiritual experiences could be simulated with VR. Our guest suggested yes but listen to all of what was said. Before concluding the program, I took an 11th hour email questions asking our guest about religion and E.T. Dr. Weibel offered comments to the listener on this subject so don't miss them. Listen and tell us what you think regarding ET and religion.
Dr. Weibel offered closing comments, talked some more about future projects she was working on and again mentioned the journal Religions. Please post your comments/questions for Dr. Weibel on our blog for this program. You can reach our guest through me or her faculty bio page at https://www.gvsu.edu/anthropology/dr-deana-weibel-5.htm.