Berkeley Springs-based research institute focuses on the future

February 01, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Working together to save humanity might be the only way we save it, according to John L. Petersen, who said he and The Arlington Institute are playing a part.

Petersen is the president of The Arlington Institute (TAI), which he founded in 1989. TAI, now based in Berkeley Springs, is a nonprofit, future-oriented research institute that looks at everything from a global standpoint.

Petersen is a futurist, of which there are about 200 in the world, he said. Futurists look for trends that influence the future on a large scale as well as high-impact surprises.

The think-tank helps governments and businesses prepare for change and avoid surprises "by developing new concepts, processes and tools for anticipating the future and translating that knowledge into better present-day decisions," according to the TAI Web site.


"We're in the idea business," Petersen said.

He said TAI looks at how everything works together, both the conventional, such as energy and economics and the unconventional, such as the history of the evolution of humanity.

"It is increasingly clear," Petersen said, that we have interdependency. He said one area cannot stand alone, and that everything is affected by everything else rapid climate change, economic instability, a global epidemic, or biological terrorism, for example.

Petersen said he believes people must be better prepared to survive economic instability, higher energy costs, global warming shifts, and possible medical emergencies such as a bird-flu pandemic.

Petersen thinks the unstable economy we are experiencing is part of a major transition that will occur in about 2012.

He said we need a strategy for the future of humanity, and we need to know how the new world will work.

"We have the unique role of trying to understand what this is all about," Petersen said, "so we will survive.

"The larger perspective is that we are part of the bigger system, and we see the world differently."

Petersen said he believes we have the capability to make it a better world.

"We seem to have within us the ability to understand and the ability to anticipate what is going on in the world," Petersen said.

"It's a very interesting time," he said.

One of TAI's projects in the works is the "WHETHEReport." It could "provide an early warning system for humanity," he said, like storms or any disruption.

People that have intense dreams involving catastrophic events could post them on Web "portals," Petersen said. The dreams would be collected and analyzed to find patterns and clusters to determine if a potential large-scale disruption is coming.

He said more than 150 people reported having dreams six months before the Sept. 11 attack, including dreams of people jumping out of windows.

Petersen said the institute's past clients include U.S. Department of Defense, including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Undersecretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, senior leadership of the Department of the Navy, and senior Marine Corps generals.

TAI is funded by governments and donations from foundations and individuals, Petersen said.

"We are gathering information on leading-edge breakthrough possibilities, and we are always looking for partnership relationships with organizations and individuals who share our vision," he said.

A free monthly newsletter is available, Petersen said, that provides indicators and alerts called "FUTUREdition" and is sent via e-mail. For more information, go to TAI's Web site,

TAI moved from the Washington, D.C., area in November and is now headquartered at 192 Fairfax St.

Petersen said he has had a home in Berkeley Springs for many years, and with easy access to clients through the Internet, there was no reason to have an office in the capital.

According to his TAI biography, Petersen worked with the White House National Security Council staff and at the National War College and Institute for National Security Studies.

He was a flight officer in the U.S. Navy and Navy Reserve and a decorated veteran of Vietnam and the Persian Gulf war.

He is the author of "The Road to 2015: Profiles of the Future," which was awarded the Outstanding Academic Book of 1995 by CHOICE Academic Review.

Petersen's latest book is "Out of the Blue: How to Anticipate Wild Cards and Big Future Surprises."

He is chairman of the Energy Advisory Committee for the new Morgan County Courthouse building.

Lecture series begins

The Arlington Institute is scheduled to begin its first free lecture series today at 7 p.m. at the Berkeley Springs High School auditorium.

Dr. Harold Puthoff, a quantum physicist, will speak about the ESP program he set up to learn if there was a "psychic spy" threat to the U.S. being pursued by the Soviet Union, according to Arlington Institute founder John L. Petersen.

In 1972 the CIA approached Dr. Puthoff after he conducted an ESP experiment at Stanford University.

Dr. Puthoff was nominated twice for the Nobel Prize, according to TAI's press release.

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