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The Moon-Illusion Approach To Problem-Solving

Photo by Edmund E. Kasaitis

Ever wonder why the moon looks bigger when low on the horizon and smaller when high in the sky?

The most common explanation is that objects such as buildings, trees, or even the ground itself, make the moon comparatively bigger. A matter of simple contrast, that’s all.

Another theory suggests that big fat juicy rising moons have to do with the fact that our brains perceive the sky as farther away than the moon, like some faraway wallpaper, in front of which stellar objects glide. When the moon is high in the sky, we see what we see, but when it’s low on the horizon, close to the ground, our brain gets scrambled. The sky seems closer, the immensity of outer space now eradicated, and the moon appears magnified.

Others believe that it’s the exact opposite. Objects in the sky directly above our heads, clouds for example, are by default closer to us than those in the horizon. They change size as they travel. When overhead, they’re size A, but as they move away, into the horizon, they diminish to size B.

We’re so used to this spatial arrangement that we expect all things to appear smaller when in the horizon than when directly above us.

But the moon is big enough and far enough not to change size no matter where it is in the sky, not from where we’re standing.

The discrepancy catches our brain by surprise. Expecting the moon to shrink in size, as do clouds, tall buildings, aircraft etc, we compensate by thinking it looks bigger.

What does any of this have to do with problem-solving? Poetically speaking, let’s just say that if you have a problem rising fresh in your horizon, any problem, you don’t have to examine it in the midst of other stuff. Best thing to do is remove it from everything else, lift it high and hold it steady, in the clear sky, in the midst of emptiness, and it will shrink down to size as it rises and makes its way across your world.

Or try looking at it upside down. Rumor has it that when looking at a low moon when on your head, the illusion disappears.

Why should problems be any different?