What Time Is Now?

Is midday in the morning or the afternoon? Is it more believable that midday is in the morning or the afternoon? And why might that make the moon landings seem implausible?

I took a brisk walk to a nearby business park this morning because the closest health food shop to me rents a unit there. When leaving, I noticed one of the premises opposite listed their opening hours as 6 am – 12 pm.

The lawyer part of my mind immediately flagged the ambiguity: do they mean from six in the morning until midday or from six in the morning until midnight?

The author part of my mind swiftly spun off two story seeds: a tragic tale of missed opportunities caused by unanticipated afternoon closure; and a noir tale of items smuggled among shipments under cover of darkness.

Many of you will, by now, have categorised this post as an exploration of the writer’s mind—or of my mind—or a whimsical conceit spun from a trivial absurdity; certainly you will all—as I did—have almost instantly decided what the notice was intended to mean.

And it might have remained a brief curiosity, good enough for an enjoyable moment on the walk home and a couple of snippets for forthcoming stories but not mentioned here, had I not received a digest of thread from a forum including one asking whether the Flat Earth was more or less believable than the Moon Landings.

The question seems simple enough: as many posters had said, science shows the Earth is round and that objections to the Moon landings aren’t probative.

However, my belief that 12 pm is midday for that set of opening hours doesn’t mean midday is pm. In fact, the intriguing moment came because midday is neither am nor pm but noon. I used my experience of the world to reach a conclusion about which time is more believable, irrespective of whether my answer would survive objective study and testing.

If we treat the believability of Flat Earth and Moon Landings as a different question from which is more demonstrably true, it becomes a less clear question: the world that I experience every day behaves like a flat surface rather than a (complex) sphere and I watch programs that feature vampires, space craft, and other realistic portrayals of creatures events that are widely believed to not be real; we have to ask “believable to whom?”

To a great many people since humanity became humanity, it seemed obvious the world was flat and people couldn’t travel to other worlds: to them the answer is clear. To many Westerners, the pronouncements of science teachers and/or newsreaders are obviously true; to them the answer is still clear, but the other way.

This is why you should always make your signs unambiguous: because otherwise someone might use them as evidence of a massive conspiracy within the science and mainstream media communities.

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