The full moon makes people crazy; just ask any cabbie, cop or ER nurse. They’ve all worked nights when everyone seemed a lot more manic than usual, and when anyone thinks to check, it’s always a full moon.
And they’ve seen this not just once, but maybe hundreds of times. But how do those hundreds of times compare to all the times there wasn’t a full moon and people went berserk anyway? And while we’re at it, how often is there a full moon but no apparent craziness?
Get a few years’ worth of stats from a busy ER ward or police station and highlight all the full moons for that period. You’ll quickly see there’s no correlation between the moon and the madness. So why do we think there is?
It’s called Confirmation Bias: events that confirm our beliefs are the only ones we remember. Believe it or not, most athletes aren’t drug addicts, but the few that are get all the headlines. This is why our stereotypes and prejudices are so powerful; when we just focus on what we’re expecting to see, we don’t see what’s actually there.
The full moon doesn’t make me crazy, but confirmation bias sure as hell does.
Look beyond what confirms your opinion and seek out counter-examples; especially evidence that contradicts (or even demolishes) your beliefs. Make the effort to see past a confirming minority and take in the whole picture, not just the bit that’s right in front of you.
And the next time you find your suspicions being confirmed, focus a little suspicion on yourself.