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Is the Moon Making Us Crazy
5 years ago
| Surprise Me

Is the moon making us crazy? [Credit: Stelios Kiousis.]
By Andrew Grant | Posted March 31, 2008

Posted in: Ever Wondered?, Life Science
Tags: astronomy, Ever Wondered?, psychology

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I admit that New Yorkers are not known for their superior driving ability, but on this one night the drivers seemed especially erratic. People kept cutting me off. One guy sped right through a red light, barely missing a collision with the crossing traffic. And some genius, perhaps British but probably not, forgot that in this country we drive on the right side of the road.

I thought about what made this night particularly favorable for lunatic drivers compared to any other. It wasn’t St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s or very late at night, so drunk driving didn’t seem to fit. Only when I got out of my car and looked up did I conceive a possible explanation: the full moon.

The legend of the full moon’s effects on human behavior has existed for centuries, popularized by the myth of the werewolf. The words “lunacy” and “lunatic” are derived from the same Latin root that gives us the word “lunar,” as people often attributed intermittent insanity to the phases of the moon. While many people believe the full moon influences behavior, scientific studies have found very little evidence supporting the “Lunar Effect.”

In 1978, University of Miami psychologist Arnold Lieber wrote the book The Lunar Effect: Biological Tides and Human Emotions. He argued that the moon influences day-to-day behavior and concluded that homicides increased during the full moon after analyzing Miami’s crime records. Similar crime studies during that same time period, however, found no such relationship.

Then, in 1986, researchers from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada combined the results of about 100 studies and found “no causal relationship between lunar phenomena and human behavior.” They discovered statistical flaws in many of the papers that claimed to find such a link. They even reanalyzed Lieber’s homicide data and found no correlation.

More recently, numerous studies have been conducted by intrigued researchers, with most attempts to blame the moon for everything from suicides to vomiting after surgery coming up empty.

So with all this evidence to the contrary, what makes the full moon lunacy theory still so popular? Perhaps it’s the media, who know people are more likely to read a crime story if some police officer blames it on the moon. Or maybe people just want to hold onto an urban legend that’s been around for hundreds of years.

A more scientific answer may be selective memory. If some bizarre murder or car accident occurs, people are probably more likely to remember it if it happened during the night of a full moon.

After reading up on some studies — including one from the authority on this topic, the University of Saskatchewan — I’ve decided that the full moon was not responsible for my experience on the road that night. Perhaps I selectively forgot the thousands of other times I encountered lunatic motorists. Though I have no scientific evidence to prove it (just years of experience), I’m going with the theory that New Yorkers are just really bad drivers.

This post was modified from its original form on 12 Jun, 0:00
5 years ago

Blood moon is coming up this week, lunar eclipse.... full moon is known to make me a little whacky. I find more crazy behavior during the full moon cycles. Maybe, I am superstitious or is it coincidence?

This post was modified from its original form on 12 Jun, 0:04
5 years ago

Well............anyone with pets (particularly horses!!) and anyone who farms livestock knows for certain that the moon has a huge influence!!!!!

5 years ago

If the Moon influences the ocean's tide then it doesn't sound logical that it wouldn't also influence other 'bodies of water' on some level or another as well.  And since a full moon, like a new moon, do influence the force of tide, then why wouldn't it also act the same for other 'bodies of water' ?


tides are caused primarily by the gravitational attraction of the Moon and Sun and the rotation of the Earth.


The semidiurnal range (the difference in height between high and low waters over about a half day) varies in a two-week cycle. Approximately twice a month, around new moon and full moon when the Sun, Moon and Earth form a line (a condition known as syzygy[8]) the tidal force due to the Sun reinforces that due to the Moon. The tide's range is then at its maximum: this is called the spring tide, or just springs. It is not named after the season but, like that word, derives from an earlier meaning of "jump, burst forth, rise" as in a natural spring.


When the Moon is at first quarter or third quarter, the Sun and Moon are separated by 90° when viewed from the Earth, and the solar tidal force partially cancels the Moon's. At these points in the lunar cycle, the tide's range is at its minimum: this is called the neap tide, or neaps (a word of uncertain origin). Spring tides result in high waters that are higher than average, low waters that are lower than average, 'slack water' time that is shorter than average and stronger tidal currents than average. Neaps result in less extreme tidal conditions. There is about a seven-day interval between springs and neaps.



5 years ago

I think at the very least, based on what science knows about how the Moon influences tides, and what farmers know about planting fence posts and poles during a certain phase of the Moon, our own senses and energies are also 'heightened' during Full Moon (and probably during New Moon too - but because it's not so largely 'visible' in the sky like Full Moon, perhaps that's why it doesn't get any credit like Full Moon does?)

5 years ago

Root crops should be planted during the waning moon, plants that crop above ground during the waxing moon and NOTHING should be planted at either New or Full moon.


In France people tend to be far more into this sort of thing, for example the hairdressers are PACKED at New Moon because trimming your hair at New Moon is supposed to make it grow quicker and thicker.

5 years ago

You can tell which telephone and electric poles were planted during a new or full moon - they lean instead of standing straight. 


It is believed that the same force the Full Moon has on ocean tide applies to the ground table as well.



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