Overview Effect

I often wonder why certain people — myself included — have such different views when it comes to living our lives. By different, I mean not conforming to the majority of people.

Obviously, because I think I’m smart, I believe my views of what constitutes a life well-lived are a notch above someone who — for the sake of argument — believes one should not think too much about things, preferring instead the facile answer, often from a book or self-described mystic. 


That is the primary reason I think some people, myself included, see life different than most. Large as opposed to small and self-centered. 

It sounds as if I’m giving myself airs . . . au contraire mes lecteurs. 

Completely the opposite, actually. I think myself an insignificant spec on this Earth, let alone the Universe.

I don’t think I have a purpose and that me being here is nothing more than a fluke. Had I not been here, someone else would have been and the Universe would not care any less or more, and it would unfold no different.

I don’t claim I’m the beloved creation of a demented and blood-thirsty god, nor do I believe some elevated plane of existence awaits me after I die. I will return to nothing, my passing unnoticed by all but a few. 

I am only important to myself and perhaps a few more who are also important to me, but neither I nor anyone I know holds any significance to the very Universe the human species claims as its own. In fact, the whole of the Earth and everything and everyone on it could be obliterated tomorrow and the Universe would be indifferent to it. It wouldn’t even register anything out of the ordinary happened. 

In the last post I “fretted” about the state of things. 

Understanding “large” helps me see the silliness of it all even as I recognize its impact on my life.   

It’s difficult taking people seriously when they speak of humans as important to the Universe. When they claim this or that knowledge based on stories from people who lived here:


I mean, I get it . . . some people need to feel important. For them to gain importance, they have to reduce the importance of everything else around them. 

I believe that’s why religious people don’t like science . . . science shows them a Universe so incomprehensively large that it’s impossible for them to dismiss it, to diminish it. 

At some level, I think even the most ardent believer must realize the idea that they, the devout believer, has some importance to a god who created the Universe, that that idea sounds pretty wacky. Best deny science and concentrate on the warm and fuzzy they get when some guy in gaudy robes tells them they are important.

That narrow view is helped along by ignorance. 

If you are a believer, I’m going to do you a favor. There are two podcasts you should listen to. One is called Philosophize This (the bottom of that page has episode 1). The other is Literature and History

If you would rather read the information in each episode, you are in luck; they both offer transcripts of each episode. 

I peripherally crossed much of that information at various stages of my life, especially in my teens and early twenties when I was trying to get a handle on this whole religion thing. However, these two resources consolidate and present a lot of information in ways accessible to the layperson . . . no need for a degree; just the willingness to read/listen and learn. 

It’s important and relevant stuff . . . you should know it, or at least of it. It might help you explain yourself to yourself. It also exposes you to thousands of years of people asking the same questions you are asking. Don’t you think it’s worth knowing what thousand of years of thoughts came up with?

I showed a neat video at the beginning of the post . . . I will now link another . . . 

The Overview Effect is “a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts and cosmonauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from orbit or from the lunar surface.” (from Wikipedia) 

Basically, people seeing the Earth whole, just hanging there in space, get a sudden realization just how fragile our existence is and how foolish out petty differences. Unfortunately, a photo doesn’t quite do it. It works best on people who have actually seen the view live . . . about 500, at last count.

This organization, The Overview Institute, tries to educate people and get them involved in thinking literally from “outside”.  

Personally, I think they have an impossible task ahead of them.

But, per my thinking, the same effect can be achieved with knowledge. Actual knowledge, not made-up shit designed to make you feel important. Knowledge about the formation of planets and solar systems and galaxies. Knowledge about the Universe, life, ourselves, Earth . . . anything and everything. Even as I say this, I know few will ever join those of us who think large and recognize ourselves as small.

I say that because I know very few people who are interested in knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Worse yet, few people want knowledge; they want answers.

Above it all, fewer yet are happy when the answer is “You. Don’t. Matter.

Again, that answer is only true when one is contemplating one’s place in the Universe. 

Much closer to home, you matter a lot. You matter to your parents, your siblings, your spouse, your offspring. Heck, you even matter to your dog; most of all your dog. 

Your cat, not so much. 

In fact, you can think of the Universe as your cat . . . you are insignificant to its existence.

So, there you have it. Why I have a different view of myself and my place in the universe than the majority of people on Earth . . . because I know I don’t matter and I’m perfectly fine with it. Giddy, even. 

I’ll end this with a useful resource when confronted with questions. In other posts, I linked websites that teach you critical thinking. This one, The Skeptic’s Dictionary, is a place where you can find information about all sorts of crazy stuff humans strive to consider relevant but it’s also a good reference for topics such as logic, science, philosophy, etc. 

Here’s a photo because, you know, you’re important to me.


Those are the telescopes atop of Mauna Kea. Humans reaching out to unlock the mysteries of the Universe and in so doing adding both to our insignificance and our achievements despite it.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


Note: if you are not reading this blog post at DisperserTracks.com, know that it has been copied without permission, and likely is being used by someone with nefarious intention, like attracting you to a malware-infested website.  Could be they also torture small mammals.


Please, if you are considering bestowing me recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so.  I will decline blogger-to-blogger awards.   I appreciate the intent behind it, but I prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way.  That would mean something to me.

If you wish to know more, please read below.

About awards: Blogger Awards
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Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.

. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

Finally, if you interpret anything on this blog as me asking or wanting pity, encouragement, or advice to better my life, know my subtle mix of irony, sarcasm, and humor is blowing right by you.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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20 Responses to Overview Effect

  1. GP Cox says:

    I heard once a man say that his dying friend told him, “I don’t believe in an afterlife, but if I’m wrong – may God forgive me.”


  2. I must admit I find it fascinating, the Universe that is not religion, to live for ever and fly out there and through it; hell I’d ever buy a camera to take along for the ride.
    Now wouldn’t that be something!


  3. “we are so small between the stars so large against the sky
    and lost among the subway crowds
    I try to catch your eye”
    For some reason one of Leonard Cohen’s songs popped into my mind reading this!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. by the way, just out of interest, the Vatican has it’s own observatory manned by Jesuit priests, highly educated and who call themselves the sons of Galileo. I saw a wonderful and extremely moving documentary by that same name about their work.These are very scientific, open minded, yet spiritual men who actually don’t see a problem with God and the Astronomers etc. lol. They really see outside the box!!!


    • disperser says:

      I am familiar with the observatory and the Jesuits.

      I’m not familiar with them calling themselves sons of Galileo, nor could I find a reference to it.

      Their role in the Galileo affair is not straight-forward, and if memory serves me right, despite confirming the observation, the order sided with the theologic argument. This was more a political decision where — like in many modern instances — science takes a back seat to other interests.

      That said, Jesuits have a history of scientific collaboration and research advancing science, and for those contributions, they should be lauded.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, great vids! Thank you for sharing them! I watched both of them!

    I have always felt like a speck, and I am okay with being a speck in this awesome, vast, amazing universe! I am honored to be here and have the joy of gazing at the stars, feeling the sun, communing with the moon, delighting in flora and fauna, being still and quiet while watching it rain or snow, etc.!

    “Basically, people seeing the Earth whole, just hanging there in space, get a sudden realization just how fragile our existence is and how foolish out petty differences.” This is very meaningful and profound and timely!

    I do think we have a purpose(s). I think one of yours is your artistic eye and your ability to capture the beauty, uniqueness, and fragility of nature in your photography. I know your photos help me to remember “to stop and smell the roses”, they help me to remember to treat the planet kindly, they help me to appreciative the amazing life that surrounds us, and more.

    HUGS!!! :-)


    • disperser says:

      I prefer to think my photography and writing are things I do to encourage my real purpose . . . eating Spam, Malasadas, Tuxedo Cakes, Tex Double Cheeseburgers, pecorino and torta bread sandwiches, pasta, cookies, French Toast, and Super Locos. Oh, and the occasional salad and fruit.

      Working on my photography and writing involves lots of sitting, ergo ==>> snacking.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Eddy Winko says:

    It took me a while, but I managed to get through it, although your first link doesn’t help and the transcript is no loner available.
    I’m reminded more of Monty Python and the Galaxy song than Leonard Cohen, but I have to admit I will be listening to both again soon.


  7. mvschulze says:

    :-). I enjoyed the time to explore the links, and of course your viewpoints. Your insights and words certainly do strike a significantly more agreeable and indeed pragmatic stand to me, than …sadly, so many arguably indoctrinated others.
    Oh, and was that your pics of the observatories????? I’m still waiting for you to visit and photograph. I did get to the top of Haleakala some years ago, and the view of it’s telescopes was impressive in the ultra clear, fresh sky – although still from a distance. M ☺


    • disperser says:

      Thanks, and yes, my picture taken from Waimea. Mauna Kea now has programs for residents to go and visit, but it’s difficult to get on the list. I could drive up there and take a few photos but it would be nice to take the tour as well.

      We’ll see if I make it up there.

      Liked by 1 person

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