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“You can only see the moon at night” and other falsehoods I learned as a child

As a child I learned that, just as the sun is only seen during the day, the moon is only seen at night. Until one day when I went to the backyard to enjoy the sunshine and, when I looked up, I saw the moon. What I had been taught (even unintentionally) was patently false, but that was not my first thought.

When I saw the moon by day, I first thought that I was seeing wrong. Maybe it wasn't the moon. Maybe it was something else: a reflection in the sky, a kite, a plastic bag, or a balloon carried by the wind.

As Mark Twain said: “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes? " My eyes were lying to me, I thought. There could be no other explanation: trusted adults taught me the moon could not be seen during the day and therefore, contrary to what my eyes showed me, what I saw could not be the moon.

But that there was nothing wrong with my eyes and that the object that I saw was the moon. So, I had to look for an even more "catastrophic" explanation to reconcile what I was seeing with my beliefs: something was wrong with the universe.

Perhaps the moon had gone out of its orbit. Or the earth had stopped rotating. Perhaps there would be a collision between the moon and the earth. Something in the heavens had stopped working overnight and now, as my eyes confirmed, the moon was visible by day and we were all in danger.

But if that were so, how could it be that everyone around me was so calm? And why were the media not talking about the impending catastrophe? For a moment I thought that I was the only one, or at least the first one, to see the danger. But I soon discarded that hypothesis, because it made no sense to think that I was the only one looking at the sky that day.

Then there was only one option: that teaching that the moon was only seen at night was false. But it was very difficult to accept that option because then it would be necessary to admit that those same adults who had taught me that the moon was only seen at night could also have taught me other falsehoods.

Over the years, I finally accepted that indeed that was what had happened: relatives, teachers, religious leaders, counselors and many others, with or without the desire to deceive me, in any cases, they had deceived me into believing that what they said it was true, when in fact it was not.

Getting rid of that past of obvious (and not so obvious) false teachings, acquired from others or by myself, was not an easy task and, in fact, it still continues because I still do not know how many other beliefs that I previously accepted as true will change next time I look up to the sky.

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