There’s a moon up in the sky, it’s called “the moon”*

Posted by on Mar 4, 2007 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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Pic courtesy BBC/Allanah McMormak
Title courtesy B52s

Great show in the sky last night. The Lunar Eclipse – the earth got between the Moon and the Sun – reduced it to an orange ball in the sky. Curiously close to us, like a polysterene ball from a Doctor Who set…or like a giant orange revel before the chocolate dipping happens

Led to some wierdness over North London, in particular some great example of Stanley Milgram‘s little known skypointing experiments (he’s much better known for his Obedience work with electric shocks and his Network experiments which generated the 6 degrees of separation phenomenon).

Having failed to go to JJ’s party, Sair and I stood opposite the Camden Arms with a drink watching the polysterene ball in the Southeren Sky and as the usual Saturday night Camden revellers and motorists went past us we pointed up into the sky. Almost all of them looked up; one or two really freaked out, even some quite scary tatoo’d types.

Milgram’s original experiment sent his students out onto street corners to point at the sky – he observed how readily passersby looked up to see what was in the sky. It took a certain critical mass of pointers to get most people peering but it worked well enough. Why is this? Well, for me it shows how much we rely on those around us for our understanding of the world. We pick up cues from others about what’s going on, where danger or excitement might lie, where to focus our attention and so on.
We are acutely aware of other people and what they tell us about the world around us. Other people are much more important than oh,…marketing, management, brands and politicians

It’s all part ofbeing that Super Social Ape: a member of the Human Herd.

2 Comments

  1. John Dodds
    March 4, 2007

    I was doing the same elsewhere and wondering why all these people had not been aware of the eclipse, given the saturation media coverage over the past couple of days.

  2. Mark Earls
    March 9, 2007

    John, I think it’s because they were’t paying attention: while the information may be readily available, unless we can sense that other folk are paying attention we just don’t see it. One of the most curious things about our minds is their very approximate mechanisms…