OT: Phases of the moon [was Re: A Moronicity of Guido van Rossum]

mensanator at aol.com mensanator at aol.com
Sat Oct 1 06:29:18 CEST 2005

Steven D'Aprano wrote:
> On Fri, 30 Sep 2005 18:02:14 -0400, Sherm Pendley wrote:
> > axel at white-eagle.invalid.uk writes:
> >
> >> I wonder if his postings are related to the phases of the moon? It
> >> might explain a lot.
> >
> > Yes, it would. Note that the word lunatic is derived from the Latin word
> > luna, meaning moon.
> Yes, lunatic is derived from luna, but that doesn't mean the two are
> connected. The ancients believed a lot of crap (the world is flat, black
> people aren't human, thunder is the sound of god's fighting, buying
> over-valued dot-com stock is a good investment) and "phases of the moon
> affecting behaviour" was one of them.
> People are really bad at connecting cause and effect. See this thread for
> a simple example:
> http://msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=42;t=000228;p=1
> A skeptical policeman who says he doesn't actually believe the moon
> affects behaviour nevertheless reports that "last weekend" things were
> really crazy, and it was a full moon. Somebody writes in to correct him:
> no, the full moon is actually "tomorrow".
> This shows how cognitive biases can fool us. Even though he was skeptical,
> the cop noticed the extra crazy behaviour on this particular weekend, and
> manged to fool himself into thinking it matched a full moon.
> See here for more details, plus references to research:
> http://skepdic.com/fullmoon.html

But correlations can exist even if the cause does not. There is a
correlation between the equinox and balancing an egg. But not
_because_ of the equinox, but because people only try it on the
equinox. Hence, egg balancing only happens on the equinox is a
true assertion.

> -- 
> Steven.

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