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"Futurist" Rebecca Costa Here on Feb. 20

"Futurist" Rebecca Costa Here on Feb. 20(Posted: January 21, 2012)

Author Rebecca Costa, host of one of California's fastest growing radio programs, will speak on Feb. 20 at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.

Costa's talk will be held from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the Reynolds Room of the Smith-Pendergraft Campus Center. It will be followed by a book signing for "The Watchman's Rattle: Thinking Our Way Out of Extinction." The event is free and open to the public.

Costa was chief executive officer and founder of one of the largest marketing firms in Silicon Valley when she retired, selling her company in 1997 to J. Walter Thompson. With a proven track record for introducing new concepts and technologies, her clients included industry giants Hewlett-Packard, Apple Computer, Oracle Corp., Seibel Systems, 3M, Amdahl and General Electric Corp.

She spent six years researching and writing the book that has propelled her into radio fame with her syndicated program "The Costa Report," where she interviews today's most acclaimed thought-leaders and experts from the political left, right and center. "The Costa Report" has been called "straight-talk radio" and is advertised as "an opportunity to get to the facts and extinguish popular myths and beliefs."

Costa is a sociobiologist who offers a genetic explanation for current events, emerging trends and individual behavior. She examines "the big picture," tracing everything from terrorism, crime on Wall Street, epidemic obesity and upheaval in the Middle East to evolutionary forces.

She has been called a futurist in the tradition of Malcolm Gladwell, Margaret Meade, Thomas Friedman and Alvin Toffler. She is by training and experience part sociologist, economist, psychologist and successful entrepreneur.

Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor, has heard Costa speak and used her book as text this past fall for his Chancellor's Leadership Council class on leadership.

"The book promoted thinking and conversation with the class about ideas in the book," he said. "And although she primarily works with business and industry on where things may be going in society, she particularly likes coming to university campuses and talking with students and faculty. That's why I wanted to bring her here."

Beran said he also spoke to a group of UAFS faculty in November, using Costa's book as the basis for his presentation.

"I gave away 50 copies of her book and summarized its points, although not nearly as well as she does," he said.

Beran said she is highly personable and will be very engaged with the Fort Smith audience.

"Among people who read the book, many don't like what they read," he said. "She is big on Darwinian theory and big on evolution, so that pushes buttons."

One of the essential messages of Costa's book is to look beyond "memes" – widely held beliefs, conventional wisdom or behaviors – and to challenge the five "supermemes" that defeat humans even before they engage a problem.

Costa says supermemes encompass "any belief, thought, or behavior that becomes so pervasive, so stubbornly embedded, that it contaminates or suppresses all other beliefs and behaviors in a society."

In promotional materials about her book, Costa was asked why her book has special significance today.

"Every person I know," said Costa, "rich or poor, educated or not, wants to know why our government gets more in debt, our air and water more polluted, our jails more crowded, our security more tenuous and our children more violent. We seem to have lost our ability to solve our problems. 'The Watchman's Rattle' offers a genetic explanation for our paralysis and prescribes a way out."

In "The Watchman's Rattle," Costa pulls news headlines to demonstrate how accelerating complexity quickly outpaces the rate at which the human brain can develop new capabilities. With evidence based on research into the rise and fall of Mayan, Khmer and Roman empires, Costa shows how the tendency to find a quick solution leads to frightening long-term consequences. She believes society's ability to solve its most challenging, intractable problems becomes gridlocked, progress slows and collapse ensues.

Costa says the answer lies in her fourth step in evolution, our ability to transform our brains into a new kind of thinking machine.

"Research and reality have shown that we can give ourselves brain tune-ups," she said. "Our brains need to be trained to develop and sharpen this skill – insight on demand – the next evolutionary tool we need to assure our survival on planet Earth."

Costa was raised in Tokyo, Japan, and lived during the Vietnam conflict in Vientiane, Laos, where her father worked in covert CIA operations. She attributes her ability to see the big picture to her cross-cultural education and upbringing. She graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a bachelor's degree in social sciences and pursued post graduate work in business at the University of Santa Clara in California.

For more information about Costa's UAFS visit, contact Susan Devero in the Chancellor's Office, by telephone at 479-788-7529 or by email at

Article by: Sondra LaMar, Director of Public Relations

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