Paradigm Shift Now

About this site

Updated 7/9/10


Note: The webmaster of this site is Rodger A. Herbst, with degrees of Bachelor of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering BAAE (1969) and Mechanical Engineer ME (1980), with 24 years of experience as an aerospace flight controls and simulation engineer. He also has six years of experience as an environmental activist on the Board of Directors of Washington Environmental Council and the Mountaineers Conservation Division.


Commentators on Transformation

In 1980, Marilyn Ferguson (1938-2008), in her classic book The Aquarian Conspiracy[1], discusses the term "Paradigm Shift", which was introduced by Thomas Kuhn, science historian and philosopher, in his 1962 book, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions".

A paradigm Shift is a distinctively new way for a society to think about “reality”. A valid scientific idea may exist for years, without a corresponding societal paradigm shift. For example, the Copernican concept that the earth revolves about the sun rather than vice versa had some unofficial support, but was officially  anathema for many years.

As Ferguson noted, since the 1960’s, there had been a trend to see developments in modern science as contributing to a new paradigm shift. Discoveries from many scientific areas, including brain and consciousness research, biology, physics, molecular biology, anthropology and psychophysiology had been documented, but a clear picture of what it all meant was still lacking. Ferguson and others anticipated these discoveries would soon precipitate another major paradigm shift that would radically transform the concept of what it means to be human and live in a human society.

Ferguson’s book was termed “pivotal in the New Age movement” in the LA Times article announcing her death on November 2, 2008 [2]. Although her views have been criticized [3], even the LA Times notes that as the activities she chronicled moved from the fringe of society toward its center, Ferguson was embraced as a beacon.

Fritjof Capra (1939-), in  his 1975 book, The Tao of Physics, [4] stated “I believe that the world view implied by modern physics is inconsistent with our present society, which does not reflect the harmonious interrelatedness we observe in nature”, this statement led to the writing of The Tuning Point in 1982.


In The Turning Point, [5] Capra sketches societies problems, including  the military budget, nuclear arms, environmental degradation,  environmental and chronic health problems, crime, economic disruption  and gross “maldistribution” of wealth, and notes the inability of the academic (or political) mainstream to offer any solution. He made an urgent plea for action.


In 1996, Mark Woodhouse, in his excellent book Paradigm wars: Worldviews for a New Age [6] provides a comprehensive analysis of the modern paradigm shifting phenomenon.


He notes that Paradigms are models or conceptual frameworks which give a unified perspective over a range of experiences. Without them our experience would lack structure and significance. He also believes that society today is not merely experiencing a single paradigm shift, but in fact, as Capra had hoped for, a whole new world view is emerging, being composed of multiple interwoven paradigm shifts.


He sees a movement away from fragmentation, hierarchial control, reductionism, fear, and competition, and  identifies  ten transformative challenges which are pushing deeply held assumptions over the brink.  The environmental and social fragmentation challenges have the power to destroy us,  yet all ten challenges are interrelated, so that to address any one of them we must also address others.

In 1998, Willis Harman (1918-1997), in Global Mind Change[7], wrote: “The factors and forces to bring about a global mind change are already in motion. Throughout history, the really fundamental changes in societies have come about not from dictates of governments and the results of battles but through vast numbers of people changing their minds- sometimes only a little bit.”

Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson, in their 2000 book, The Cultural Creatives[8], proposed that a new culture is silently shaping within America, and that the change is manifesting everywhere. According to this book, one quarter (fifty million) of all Americans, as well as a corresponding number of Europeans, have made a comprehensive shift in world view, values, and way of life. These people are not aware of the potential power of this collective body.

The book points to visionaries in the 60's and 70's who saw a convergence of various "fringe" movements, including feminist, ecological, spiritual, human potential, to form a coherent new politics. Mark Satin, a draft resister, identified "an entire third force in politics” in the 70s. George Leonard's Transformation in 1972 predicted that a civilization wide social shift was coming. Marilyn Ferguson's The Aquarian Conspiracy, Alvin Toffler's The Third Wave, Fritjof Capra's The Turning Point, Hazel Henderson's The Politics of the Solar Age, and Theodore Roszak's Person/Planet made similar predictions. So far the predicted transformation has not occurred.

The Battle in Seattle of 1999 gave another hint that something was happening. Richard Flacks, sociologist at U. of California, Santa Barbara (who helped form the radical 1960's anti-Vietnam war group Students for a Democratic Society) noted :[9]   "This was historic, cutting edge...The linking of groups that have rarely been in coalition before-the labor and the environment- is a real breakthrough in social movements in American History.”

Social and consciousness movements flow together. Social movements lead to direct action in conventional political or economic areas focuses on changing actions and policies in the real world; consciousness movements leads to change in the individual psyche, culture,  and worldview; the change is private and apolitical.

A sense of the general movement in culture was supported by the American Psychologist and author Ralph H Turner in 1994, who argued that over the past generation a large general social movement has unfolded in western Europe that encompasses all of the new social movement's concerns: "a sense of personal worth, of meaning in life, is a fundamental human right that must be protected by our social institutions" [10]. Ray and Anderson believe that the people at the center of the general movement for change are a particular set of people that are the shared constituency of the social and consciousness movements.

Why don’t we see it? The authors suggest business as usual; government, corporations, media, and movements caught in narrow specialized viewpoints.

Sociological Studies Through History

Capra provides a good description of the broad view sociological studies of  Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) and Pitirim Sarokin (1889-1968). "Studies of periods of cultural transformation in various societies have shown that transformations are typically based on a variety of indicators. These include a sense of alienation and increase in metal illness, violent crime, social disruption, and increased interest in religious cultism."

He discusses the Toynbee and Sorokin cycles of evolution.  According to Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History, civilization results from a transition from a static state to a condition of dynamic activity. Toynbee sees the basic pattern in what he calls "challenge-and response"; a challenge from the natural or social environment produces a creative response in a society which induces that society to enter the process of civilization. The civilization continues to grow when successful response to challenge creates momentum. After civilizations reach a peak of vitality, they tend to loose their cultural steam and decline. An essential element of decline is a loss of flexibility. When social structures and behavior patterns have become so rigid that the society can no longer adapt to changing situations, it will be unable to carry on the creative process of cultural evolution. Whereas growing civilizations display endless variety and versatility, those in the process of disintegration show uniform lack of inventiveness. Although the cultural mainstream has become petrified by clinging to fixed ideas and rigid patterns of behavior, creative minorities “turning to the inner world of the psyche” will appear on the scene and carry on the process of challenge and response. He also predicted the most significant development would be the influence of the Eastern spiritual perspective on the West.[11]

Sociologist Pitiram Sorokin, in his 4 volume work [12], provides a grand theme for the synthesis of western history based on a waxing and waning of three basic culture values: sensate, ideational and idealistic. The sensate value system holds that matter alone is the ultimate reality. The ideational value system holds that true reality lies beyond the material world, in a spiritual realm, and that knowledge can be obtained by inner experience. Western representations of the ideational concept include platonic ideas, the soul, and Judeao Christian images of God; and is represented by the western middle ages; and in Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist cultures.

Sorokin also identifies an “Idealistic Cultural Mentality,” [13]  which synthesizes the premises of sensate and ideational into one inwardly consistent and harmonious unity. He finds this mentality rarely in an entire culture.

In his chapter “The Crisis of Our Age”,  he sees the social problems we are now witnessing as a sign of an excess of sensate cultural values, and predicts a major cultural transition. [14]

Political Cycles in the US

In 1997, the politically oriented book The Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny [15], made the National Bestseller lists.  At that time, the authors William Strauss and Neil Howe placed America in the third Turning of an immutable four turn cycle. Each cycle of 4 turnings, lasting about 80-100 years, a unit of time called the saeculum by the ancients, comprises history's seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy, and destruction. The First Turn is called a high; an upbeat era of strengthening institutions and weakening individualization. The second Turn is a passionate era of social upheaval, when civic order comes under attack from a new values regime. The Third Turn is an unraveling; a downcast era of strengthening individualism and weakening institutions, when the old civic order decays and the new values system implants. The fourth turn, which the authors predicted in the first decade of the twenty-first century, is a crisis; a decisive era of secular upheaval, when the values regime propels the replacement of the old civic order with a new one. The authors state that Americans have been thru these cycles before, and see the First Turning of the current saeculum beginning with the end of world war II thru the Kennedy administration. The Second Turning was the Consciousness Revolution from 1964 through the mid 80s.he Third Turning has been the Culture wars. Strauss and Howe are saying that the coming era of secular upheaval will be triggered by a single incident, and may be disruptive.


Landmark Figures of Transformation

In their books, Ferguson,  Harman, and Ray all reference landmark figures in the history of the quest for transformation of consciousness, including  Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Transcendentalists, Pierre Tielhard de Chardon, Aldous Huxley, Lewis Mumford, Abraham Maslow, and Barbara Marx Hubbard.


Ralph Waldo Emerson ( 1803-1882) and the Transcendentalist movement emphasized the importance of the self, freedom of the human mind, and the existence of an Inner Light, or spark of god in each person. In his essay Nature, Emerson wrote “Build therefore your own world,” suggesting we create our own reality. The movement drew upon Immanuel Kant and the German Idealists, the English Romanticists, especially Wordsworth and Coleridge, and sacred literature including the Hindu Baghavid Gita. The movement is said to have had an enormous effect on US history, Spin offs including the Civil War and abolition of slavery,  and the Women’s movement.


Pierre Tielhard de Chardon (1881-1955) was a Jesuit paleontologist. In 1931, after a visit to the US, he outlined a new essay The Spirit of the Earth, inspired by his growing conviction that a growing number of individuals from every layer of American society was engaged in an effort  to raise to a new stage the edifice of life” He soon set forth his major thesis: Mind has been undergoing successive reorganizations through out the history of evolution until it has reached a crucial point- the discovery of its own evolution. It will eventually become collective. It will envelope the planet and will crystallize as a species wide enlightenment he called “Omega Point.” [16]


Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was a British author at the hub of an international network of intellectuals, artists, and scientists interested in the notion of transcendence and transformation. Many of Huxley’s interests were so advanced that they did not come into their own until after his death, including consciousness research, decentralization in government & economy, paranormal healing, altered states, and acupuncture. [17]


In 1956, Lewis Mumford (1895-1990) wrote in The Transformation of Man “… We stand on the brink of a new age: the age of an open world and of a self capable of playing its part in that larger sphere. An age of renewal, when work and leisure and learning and love will unite to produce a fresh form for every stage of life, and a higher trajectory for life as a whole…” [18]


Barbara Marx Hubbard (1930-) was fifteen when the US dropped it’s atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, in 1945.  That event caused her to ask two questions, which she is still asking: What is the meaning of all our new powers that is good? What are positive images of the future equal to our new powers? In a 2006 DVD[19] she summarizes our evolutionary spiral: the Big Bang, earth, life, animal life, human life; and notes we are about to complete another loop in the spiral. She suggests that we are in a unique evolutionary phase in which the universe is coming to understand itself through the vehicle of human consciousness. The DVD notes that “Patriarchal leaders, in a dominator structure at the heads of existing institutions and nation-states, cannot guide our species to the next stage of evolution,” and that Einstein said “Our problems cannot be resolved in the same state of consciousness as we are creating them.” She argues that the spiritual attainments of the great religious founders and avatars are now becoming available to masses of people through  Evolution of Consciousness. [20]


Abraham Maslow (1808-1970) is the American psychologist who validated the innate human need for meaning and transcendence, developed in his concept of a hierarchy of needs. His concept of “self-actualization” rapidly gained adherents.  it is increasingly clear…that a philosophical revolution is under way. A comprehensive system is swiftly developing, like a tree beginning to bear fruit on every branch at the same time.” [21]


Parallels in Religious Movements

Closely interrelated to the fervor of the time of Emerson are the religious organizations that grew up in the late 19th century. According to,[22] the “New Thought Movement” had its roots in the metaphysical and romantic climate of the 19th Century, as well as American Christianity. This period saw the birth of New Thought, Christian Science, Transcendental Meditation, theosophy, and other related movements. Major groups within the New Thought movement include the Unity Church, Church of Religious Science, and Divine Science. 

Phineas P. Quimby (1802–66), Mary Baker Eddy, Warren F. Evans (1817–89), Julius Dresser (1838–93), Horatio Dresser (1866–1954), and Emma Curtis Hopkins (1849-1925) are considered founders of this movement.

According to, the beliefs of New Thought are based in part on Platonism (ideas are real), Swedenborgianism (based on the view that the material realm has spiritual causes and purposes), Hegelianism (identifies the organism as the meeting ground of the body and the mind); spiritual teachings of Eastern religions like Hinduism, and especially the Transcendentalism of the 19th-century American philosopher and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. The most commonly held beliefs in New Thought are that Divinity is in all things and that the mind is much more real and powerful than matter.

Rise of Interest in Spirituality 
Capra and other visionaries see in current trends a movement away from the sensate culture of the Enlightenment towards the ideational.  
This view is supported by a global explosion in interest in “spirituality” of all kinds. The series World Spirituality: An Encyclopedic History of the Religious Quest consists of twenty-five volumes, and includes new secular as well as esoteric  spiritualities. [23] Ursula King, an internationally recognized scholar, notes that Postmodernism as an intellectual and cultural movement includes the loss of stable meanings, the recognition of diversity, skepticism of rationality and objectivity, especially in science and technology [24] Postmodernism is also associated with transformation. King notes the growing interest in spirituality  is very much a hallmark of postmodern consciousness and culture. [25]

Elaine Howard Ecklund, assistant professor of sociology at the University of Buffalo, wrote in 2007 that university students are increasingly interested in religion as well as less traditional forms of spirituality, and that further, although scientists are not very religious compared to the general public, they are surprisingly interested in spirituality [26]

It is said that when the student is ready, the teacher arrives, and this is certainly true in the current  transformation. The book Visionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life, published in 2001,[27] lists over sixty Visionaries,  and the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) hosts literally hundreds of Luminaries. 
Although this may be a good sign, it is interesting that the fundamental tenant of the spiritual tradition,  that each of us has immediate access to the infinite without need of an intermediary, has spawned such celebrity. Are we transforming our awareness, or simply moving to a new marketplace?
In Capra’s view we are moving away from the competitive,  rational and analytic "yang" of western society towards the   cooperative, intuitive and synthesizing "yin" of eastern society.


Renewal And Transformation Associated With  Science

Both Ferguson and Harman observe that  the themes of renewal and transformation have  been persistent in history. Gnostics, Alchemists, Neoplatonists, Cabalists; Hermetics, Rosicrucians, Freemasons, New England Transcendentalists and the Theosophists to name a few.


Harman  believes that these groups advocated “transcendental monism”; the metaphysics which assumes consciousness creates reality, as opposed to “materialistic monism” in which only matter and energy are real, or dualism, which assumes the universe consists of matter/energy  and mind/spirit[28].


Frances  A. Yates, a distinguished Renaissance scholar, argues that the main influence on the new turning towards the world in scientific inquiry lay in the desire for renewal and transformation fostered in the Hermetic-Cabalist tradition. [29] The New England Transcendentalists, especially Emerson, were interested in scientific developments.


The themes of renewal and transformation, as well as the metaphysics of “transcendental monism” are now tending to be supported by the latest science.


Science, until recently, has been conceived as entirely materialistic. With Einstein’s equation, e=m*c squared, energy was brought into the materialistic realm. However, with the holographic theories of David Bohm and Karl Pribram,  and the biological work of Frohlich and Benvinesta,  that conception is changing. The sciences of physics and biology are now being integrated, and are leading away from pure materialism. Yet the conceptions of today’s “cutting edge science” are merely the latest developments in a continuous unfolding over many centuries.


The work of Joseph Chilton Pearce allows another perspective. Pearce is a critic of western culture’s institutionalized education system. He sees the entire system from beginning to end as one whole, integrated, total error, for which nothing can be done. He notes a twenty year study  coming out of Tunbingen University in Germany, which studied four thousand people. The study found a one percent per year reduction in the sensory sensitivity of the human system and the ability to bring in information from the outside world. The study also found that the kind of stimulation that does break through is only highly concentrated bursts of over-stimulation. Finally, the study found that  the brain is maladapting on a level which seems almost genetically impossible. That is, the brains of these young people are not cross-indexing the sensory systems, so there is no synthesis taking place in the brain. Sight is simply a radical series of brilliant impressions which do not cross index with touch, sound, smell and so forth. There is no context created for sensory input, each is an independent, isolated event. “ The culprit, according to Pearce and others, is our institutionalized education system.


Pearce and others believe, with some data to back them up,  that education really begins in the womb and that the first three years of life are when ninety percent of it takes place. He also advises not to waste energy on trying to change institutions, but rather to put the energy into helping as many children as can immediately be reached. “Look to the tangible and real need in a child, in a family, or in a neighborhood.”


Pearce remains optimistic however, because of the findings in the new field of neurocardiology; the study of the heart/brain system. [30] The institution of HeartMath is the front runner of new research in this field. Briefly, the heart’s electromagnetic field is found to be full spectrum, including radio waves and light, and can influence not only one’s DNA, but the minds of others close by. They have found that sustained positive emotions appear to give rise to a distinct mode of functioning, called psychophysiological coherence, in which the nervous system acts as an “antenna,” which is tuned to and responds to the electromagnetic fields produced by the hearts of other individuals. [31]

In this case a coherent heart/brain system is also entrained with the earth’s magnetic field through the Schumann resonance.  [32] 

“But, you see, at the very time we're moving into a period of total chaos and collapse, this other incredible thing is simply gathering. I think of Ilya Prigogine's comments that so long as a system is stable, or at an equilibrium, you can't change it, but as it moves toward disequilibrium and falls into chaos then the slightest bit of coherent energy can bring it into a new structure.” [33]


Yes, as in the case of Copernicus the current scientific paradigm shift is being resisted. This is especially true now, because almost 30 years after Marilyn Ferguson’s book, a comprehensive picture of what all this new science means is still lacking. Yet this may be understandable, because the Copernican Revolution was but one step in the leaps and bounds that have taken place  since. If it takes society a long time to absorb one step, how long to absorb leaps and bounds?

Much peer reviewed scientific literature has been ignored or maligned by the main stream, particularly in the United States. Richard Milton, in his book Alternative Science,[34]  has written about a "scientific fundamentalism" pervading the late 20th century, and Nobel Prize winner Brian Josephsen[35] discusses the fossilization of scientific opinion. Yet despite this, new scientific insight, as well as the re-discovery of scientific principles ignored or obscured by establishment science feed into a steady flow which has by now become a torrent.

However, at the same time that authoritarian science has overtly ignored and denied the potential positive benefits of much of this emerging science, the military industrial complex has coveted the technological knowledge that has been derived from it to conduct business as usual: better weapons for endless war.

A unified movement ?

Woodhouse confronts the oft maligned “New Age” label, and finds a number of beliefs and practices attributed to the “New Age” mentality to be substantially integrated into  mainstream society. He also believes the “New Age  dialog is more restricted and less sophisticated than the ongoing New Paradigm dialog.


He believes all of the many “New Paradigm” points of view contribute to one of two “master paradigms”, neither of which is new. One he calls the science oriented “Systems Holism”,  the other  the inward, experiential “Perennial Philosophy”. He argues that these two paradigms complement one another, but are not identical, and the proponents of each may disagree with the other on a number of issues.


On the other hand, based on the magnitude of the shift, one might expect some dissonance, and even disagreements between the New Paradigm dialogs.


Goal of this website

The media, our institutions, the “powers,” and uninformed skeptics are committed to maintaining an obsolete mind set.  The goal of this website is to facilitate the promise of  transformation.

[1] Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the1980’s, JP Tarcher, first edition, 1980.


[3] R.C. Bealer wrote in the journal Science Books & Films that Ferguson offered "hyperbole of the 'positive' thinking huckster." The book was a favorite target of Lyndon LaRouche, the political extremist whose followers held public protests against it and called it "a challenge to the nation's grasp on reality."


[4] Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism: Shambhala, 1975.

[5] Frutjof Capra, The Turning Point, Science, Society, and the Rising Culture, Bantam Books, first edition 1982.

[6] North Atlantic Press

[7] Willis Harman, Global Mind Change: Berrett Koehler Publishers Inc. 1998. p ???

[8] Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World: Three Rivers Press, 2000.

[9] San Jose Mercury-News

[10] Cultural Creatives p. 216, n 357.

[11] Aquarian Conspiracy p. 51.

[12] Pitirim Sorokin Social and Cultural Dynamics (4 vol., 1937–41; rev. and abridged ed. 1957)

Social and Cultural Dynamics: A Study of Change in Major Systems of Art, Truth, Ethics, Law and Social Relationships (1957 Cloth (reprinted 1970) ed.).

Revised edition: S.M. Stern  Transaction Publishers 1985:

[13] Sorokin p. 50.

[14] Sorokin p. 622f.

[15] William Strauss and Neil Howe, Fourth Turning: What the Cycles of History Tell us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny: publisher, date.

[16] Aquarian Conspiracy p. 51f.

[17] Aquarian Conspiracy p. 52f.


[18] Global mind Change p.129.

[19] Humanity Ascending … a new way through together Featuring Barbara Marx Hubbard

Part 1: Our Story Quantum Productions In association with the Foundation For Conscious Evolution 2006


[20] In his 1992 book The Evolution of Consciousness: The Origins of the Way We Think , Robert Ornstein states that there will be no further biological evolution of mankind, unless there is an evolution of consciousness which will prevent his extinction.


[21] Aquarian Conspiracy p. 56.

[23] Ursula King The Search For Spirituality: Our Global Quest for a Spiritual Life  Blue Bridge 2008. p.9.

[24] The Search For Spirituality p. 19

[25] The Search For Spirituality P. 20.


[26] Elaine Howard Ecklund Religion and Spirituality Among University Scientists


[27] Anthology Visionaries: People and Ideas to Change Your Life New Society Press 2001

[28] Global Mind Change Science and metaphysics have been linked. Foundation of Royal Society in 1660 influenced early science, and for the first three decades of its existence, “Rosicrucianism, freemasonry, and the Royal Society were not just to verlap, but virtually indistinguishable from one another (Baigent and Leigh 1989 p. 145. the fonders, including Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren, and the first president, Robert Moray were steeped in the esoteric metaphysical traditions of Freemasonry, Rosi, Neo-platonc and Hermetic thought. Isaac Newton, president from 1703 to 1727, was strongly influenced by the Hermetic tradition throughout is life.

 p. 29.


[29] The Rosicrucian Enlightenment. Frances  A. Yates Barnes & Noble 1996 p. 226 f.


[34] Richard Milton,  Alternative Science: Challenging the Myths of the Scientific Establishment. Park Street Press, 1996.