Does the Full Moon Make You Mental?
Scientists have conducted a new study that says previous studies about human behaviour at the full moon are flawed.
“It must be a full moon” is a common refrain when things appear more hectic than usual. People have always known that the full moon has marked effects on animal behaviour, pretty much all scientists agree on this. But a new report has recently been published, saying there is no change in human behaviour when the full moon lights up the night sky. Humans are animals too, how could we possibly be different?
The term “lunar effect” refers to the belief that there is correlation between specific stages of the lunar cycle and behaviour in humans. A considerable number of studies have examined the belief: by the late 1980s, there were at least 40 published studies on the connection between the appearance of the moon and lunacy, and the appearance of the moon and the birth rate. All of them said yes, we are affected by the lunar cycle.
But now, a team of scientists is telling us to stop blaming the moon. And they say it’s ridiculous that the moon is blamed when things get crazy at hospital emergency rooms or birth wards. “Some nurses ascribe the apparent chaos to the moon, but dozens of studies show that the belief is unfounded,” said Jean-Luc Margot, a UCLA professor of planetary astronomy. “The moon does not influence the timing of human births or hospital admissions, confirming what scientists have known for decades. The study illustrates how intelligent and otherwise reasonable people develop strong beliefs that, to put it politely, are not aligned with reality. The absence of a lunar influence on human affairs has been demonstrated in the areas of automobile accidents, hospital admissions, surgery outcomes, cancer survival rates, menstruation, births, birth complications, depression, violent behaviour, and even criminal activity.”
But what about all the studies that say the full moon does have an effect? A 2004 study in a nursing journal, for example, suggested that the full moon influenced the number of hospital admissions in a medical unit in Barcelona, Spain.
But Margot says he identified multiple flaws in the data collection and analysis of the 2004 research. By re-analysing the data, he showed that the number of admissions was unrelated to the lunar cycle.
“The moon is innocent,” Margot said.
Margot cited what scientists refer to as the “confirmation bias” – people’s tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms their beliefs and ignore data that contradict them. When life is hectic on the day of a full moon, many people remember the association because it confirms their belief. But hectic days that do not correspond with a full moon are promptly ignored and forgotten because they do not reinforce the belief. “Perhaps we can start by correcting our delusions about the moon, and work from there,” he said.
If animals and plants react to the waxing and waning moon, then most people would say it is fair to assume human behaviour is similarly affected by the ball of cheese in the sky. If you have a temper tantrum at the supermarket, feel free to blame the full moon… and we will back up your story. We are all for blaming the moon for all of your mental.
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