The Moon Only Comes Out At Night

Candice eetimesWhen I was in my early 20s, I worked at a small electronics company on the factory floor.  Most of the employees were hispanic women on the assembly line.  These were good hearted women for the most part of whom I got along well.

One morning, on my way to work, standing in the parking lot, I marvelled at the absolutely cloudless deep blue sky which formed the back drop for a gibbous waning moon.  It was so lovely that I mentioned it to my coworkers.

“You are mistaken.  The moon only comes out at night,” one of the middle-aged women corrected me.

I was taken aback.  I knew what I saw.  Further, I had seen the moon during the day many times in my life (and often have since).  While the moon at night commands attention, being then the brightest object in the sky, it is clearly visible during the day if viewing conditions (clear of clouds in that part of the sky) permit.  If one knows the current phase of the moon and understands that its orbit is along the ecliptic, one can even predict what part of the sky it will be in at a given time of day, even without an ephemeris, with just a moderate amount of mental visualization.  It astounded me that this woman had never simply observed the sky.

“I can show it to you.  It will only take a minute to go out to the parking lot and I can show it to you.”

“The moon only comes out at night!” was her emphatic reply.  Several other women sagely nodded their heads as they all agreed with her and commented upon my lack of knowledge in spanish, as though I couldn’t understand what they were saying.  (No, I can’t converse in spanish.  But one can catch just enough to know what people are talking about.)

It wasn’t just that she was wrong.  It was her and her coworkers’ unwillingness to test their understanding against objective observable reality.  She didn’t need to test her understanding.  She already knew the truth.

“The moon only comes out at night.”  has become my catch phrase for willful ignorance and arrogant self-assurance.  The actual words may be different, but I’ve been hearing it a lot lately.

“The moon only comes out at night.”

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