During my first Aikido involvement, I used to repair to a bar in Berkeley after training, to, um, replenish body fluids I’d lost from the exercise. Yeah, that’s the ticket.
The bar, Shattuck Avenue Spats, had two entrances, one in the front, the other leading out back to the parking lot. One evening I left by the back entrance and was confronted by a full moon in full “horizon effect,” its image close to the tops of the nearby buildings and looking close enough to reach out an touch.
I stopped dead in my tracks for several seconds, just marveling at it. Then, I noticed what I had just done and got curious.
I went over and got into my car, but I just sat there for another 15 minutes or so, watching people as they came out of the bar. Many of them stopped, just like I did, and gazed at the moon for a second. Others pointed it out to their companions. A few became very animated, even to the point of doing a little dance, or otherwise expressing physical excitement.
There have been a fair number of studies attempting to document the “full moon effect,” the notion that crimes get weirder, emergency rooms more crowded, and things generally just get stranger, around the time of the full moon. To the best of my knowledge, none of these studies has ever found a relationship between the full moon and abnormal behavior.
By the same token, and to the best of my knowledge, these studies never correct for whether or not the moon is actually visible on the nights in question. No one has tested the idea that it is the sight of the full moon that affects people, in other words.
Yet the sight of the full moon clearly does affect people. Songs have been written about it; it appears in art and literature.
This seems to be part of that unconscious, social bias in science that I’ve mentioned before. Certain hypotheses are more easily addressed than others. The bias extends to pseudo-science as well. People have a lot of water; the oceans are water; the moon affects the oceans by raising tides. Maybe the moon affects people the same way. That’s considered an acceptable hypothesis to test (and debunk).
The moon affects people through aesthetic influence does not seem to be a readily acceptable hypothesis. It’s subjective. Science is objective; it doesn’t like being reminded of the subjective.
It’s a blind spot, a lacuna. Rhymes with Luna.