|The Lunar Effect - Full Moon Effects
Earth's Lunar Cycle and Deviant Behavior in Human Beings and Other Animals
Police officers, doctors, and emergency crews, just like the rest of the
population more than likely have an opinion about the moon's effect on
The lunar effect is a theory that suggests that there is a correlation between specific stages of the Earth's lunar cycle and deviant behavior in human beings.
The claims of a correlation of lunar phases to animal behavior, and to a much lesser extent human behavior, have considerable scientific basis.
This belief has been around for many centuries. The term lunacy itself is derived from Luna, "the Moon" in Latin. The connection between the words lunar and lunatic can also be demonstrated in other languages.
"When it's a little bit warmer and the moon is
out. Definitely there are going to be more people out in the streets,
for some reason it's just a combination of both," veteran Odessa Police
Sergeant Eddie Vallejo says warm weather and a full moon factor into a
It's a loaded topic. If you search long enough you will find a study to match every belief.
Officer Pete Gonzales says just about any night can turn into a busy shift, but he's not sure the moon is always to blame. "A
lot of times your going from call to call." Officer Gonzales said,
"Usually, the weekends tend to be busier than the week days."
When NewsWest 9 asked about the full moon, Officer Gonzales smiled and shrugged. "I
don't really know. There are a lot of people who tend to think activity
tends to pick up during a full moon and some people don't believe it,"
During a June 18th ride along with Officer Gonzales, he made three arrests. Some
Law enforcement agents NewsWest 9 spoke to during the research for this
story said weather, holidays, and even paydays can increase crime
"I do believe in it, because we do see it and as many
years as I've been doing it, I have seen it," Sgt. Vallejo said, "The
moon does play a role in people's aggression."
According, to an
article on sixwise.com, a study printed in the Journal of Emergency
Medicine in 1987 "found that 80 percent of emergency room nurses and 64
percent of physicians agree that the moon affects their patients'
"We would have these crazy nights and somebody would
go whoa is this a full moon? We would go out and check and sure enough,"
said Dr. Judi Stondale who specializes in forensic psychiatry.
don't know statistically but certainly in my experience. It has been
true," Dr. Stonedale said, who says lack of sleep drives mania or
hyperactive behavior, and she says if someone is out and up later this
may contribute to lunacy once associated with a full moon.
seemed like we would see more substance abuse," she said, "More people
are out. More alcohol abuse, more crazy behavior, and it turns out you
see them in the E.R."
Dr. Rahul Bhonghir, a third year resident
in Odessa says coming from an Indian background he never imagined
Americans would hold similar views about the moon. "My
perspective was that here a developed country like the United States, I
thought people would turn away from that, but I see that there is a
common thing that all people share for things we have no control on."
Dr. Bhonghir said.
Full Moon Effect: Fact or Fiction?
One study often cited by full moon believers
was printed in the Journal for Clinical Psychiatry in May 1978. In the
article, A.L. Lieber examined the relationship between the moon's phases
and human aggression.
Another study, discussed in an article
found on skepdic.com said a review of more than 100 studies conducted by
Ivan Kelly, James Rotton and Roger Culver in 1996, "failed to show a
reliable and significant correlation," between the moon's effect on
behavior including, "homicide rates, traffic, accidents, crisis calls,
and other violence."
NewsWest 9 looked at hospital admittance
rates at Medical Center Hospital in June. The full moon was Wednesday,
Emergency room staff admitted 47 patients the first Wednesday
in June. June 11th, they admitted 32 patients. June 18th, the hospital
staff admitted 36 patients and the last Wednesday in June, June 25th,
the hospital admitted 34 new patients.
The busiest night was by far June 4th, not a full moon.
representative from the Ector County Detention Center gave NewsWest 9
data going back to 2004, the numbers did not reflect a trend, but the
employee said despite the numbers, there just might be "something" to
the full moon's effect on human behavior.
The lunar effect is a
pseudoscientific theory which overlaps into sociology, psychology and
physiology suggesting that there is correlation between specific stages
of the Earth's lunar cycle and deviant behavior in human beings.
The claims of a correlation of lunar phases to human behavior do not hold up under scientific scrutiny.
Over the past 30 years, even more evidence has emerged to stress that this is pseudoscience. The theory is sometimes also referred to as the Transylvanian hypothesis or the Transylvanian effect in scholarly literature.
The exact origins
of this theory are ambiguous historically, because paleolithic moon
artifacts from many cultures predate written history. This belief has
been around for many centuries. The term lunacy itself is derived from
the name of Luna, the Roman moon goddess.
The connection between the words lunar and lunatic can also be
demonstrated in other languages, such as in Welsh, where these two words
are lloer and lloerig. Perhaps the most famous myth arising from this
theory is the legend of the werewolf.
Some studies support the possibility of a lunar effect. For example, a
study concluded that schizophrenic patients show signs of deterioration,
in terms of quality of life and mental well-being, during the time of a
full moon. Some researchers have studied positive correlations between
physiological changes such as induced seizures in epileptic patients and
non-epileptic subjects, and the full moon period.
A 2004 study found a
statistically significant correlation between the lunar effect and
hospital admissions due to gastrointestinal bleeding, particularly among
Other studies refute assertions of a lunar effect.
In a study published
by Epilepsy & Behavior, Sallie Baxendale and Jennifer Fisher of
University College London hypothesized that if the moon phase were
influential on epileptic seizures that this would be due to the moon's
contribution to nocturnal illumination, rather than its waxing or waning
state, and that significant correlations would not be apparent if local
cloud cover were controlled for.
A significant negative correlation between the mean number of seizures
and the fraction of the moon illuminated by the sun was found in 1571
seizures recorded in a dedicated epilepsy inpatient unit over 341 days.
This correlation disappeared when the local clarity of the night sky was
controlled for, suggesting that it is the brightness of the night and
the contribution the moon phase makes to nocturnal luminance, rather
than the moon phase, that may influence the occurrence of epileptic
|The Light of the Full Moon
Police have linked full moons to a
rise in aggressive behavior among people on the streets of Sydney.
Senior officers have decided to deploy more police this summer to
counter trouble they believe is linked to the lunar cycle.
Surrey Hills police spokeswoman said today: "Research carried out by us
has shown a correlation between violent incidents and full moons."
monthly factor which police chiefs identified as fueling violence in
pubs and nightclubs in Sydney and Hove was pay days. Inspector Andy Parr
told the Sun Herald paper he would be interested in discussing the
police findings with academics.
said: "I compared a graph of full moons and a graph of last year's
violent crimes and there is a trend. People tend to be more aggressive."
would be interested in approaching universities and seeing if any of
their postgraduates would be interested in looking into it further. This
could be helpful to us."
Cross bouncer Terry Wing agreed with the theory. "It's so true. When
there is a full moon out we look at the sky and say: 'Oh no, all the
idiots will be out tonight.' I will start looking at the back of
people's hands for hair next time." The link between full moons and
extremes of human behavior has been identified in past studies.
1998, a three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Long Bay
jail discovered a rise in violent incidents during the days on either
side of a full moon. During the first and last quarter of each lunar
month there was a marked increase in violent incidents. During the
remaining part of the month there were far fewer incidents and none at
all on some days.
Oxford English dictionary defines "lunatic" as "affected with the kind
of insanity that was supposed to have recurring periods, depending on
changes of the moon". However, any link between the lunar cycle and
human behavior has yet to be explained scientifically.
Psychologist Ivan Kelly of the
University of Saskatchewan (with James Rotton and Roger Culver) did a
meta-analysis of thirty-seven studies that examined relationships
between the moon's four phases and human behavior in 1996.
The meta-analysis revealed no significant correlation.
They also checked twenty-three studies that had claimed to show
correlation, and nearly half of these contained at least one statistical
A study of 4,190 suicides in Sacramento County over a 58-year period
showed no correlation to the phase of the moon. A 1992 paper by Martens,
Kelly, and Saklofske reviewed twenty studies examining correlations
between Moon phase and suicides.
Most of the twenty studies found no correlation and the ones that did report positive results were inconsistent with each other.
Psychiatrist Arnold Lieber of the University of Miami reported a
correlation of homicides in Dade County to moon phase, but later
analysis of the data — including that by astronomer George Abell — did
not support Lieber's conclusions.
Kelly, Rotton, and Culver point out that Lieber and Carolyn Sherin used
inappropriate and misleading statistical procedures. When more
appropriate tests were done, no correlation between homicides and the
phase of the moon was found.
Astronomer Daniel Caton analyzed 70,000,000 birth records from the
National Center for Health Statistics, and found no correlation between
an increased birth rate and the full moon phase. Kelly, Rotton, and
Culver report that Caton examined 45,000,000 births and found a weak
peak around the third quarter phase of the Moon, while the full moon and
new moon phases had an average or slightly below average birth rate.
A Full Moon Effects Behavior?
1959 Walter and Abraham Menaker reported that a study of over 510,000
births in New York City showed a 1 percent increase in births in the two
weeks following the full moon.
In 1967 Walter Menaker studied another 500,000 births in New York City,
and found a 1 percent increase in births in the two-week period centered
on the full moon.
In 1973 M. Osley, D. Summerville, and L. B. Borst studied another
500,000 births in New York City, and they reported a 1 percent increase
in births before the full moon.
In 1957 Rippmann analyzed 9,551 births in Danville, PA and found no
correlation between the birth rate and the phase of the moon. A fifteen
month study in Jacksonville, Florida revealed no lunar effect on crime
and hospital room admittance. In particular:
- There was no increase in crime on full moons,
according to a statistical analysis by the Jacksonville Police
Department. Five of the fifteen full moons had a higher than average
rate of crime while ten full moons had a lower than average rate. The
higher-than-average days were during warmer months.
- Statistical analysis of visits to Shands Hospital
emergency room showed no full moon effect. Emergency room admissions
may have more to do with the day of the week.
Further research may provide further clarification on the lunar effect
and what aspects of human behavior and physiology may or may not be
the world, there has been an abundance of pseudoscientific theories and
superstitions based on the full moon and the effects on human and
One theory claims that the moon has a perceived relationship to
fertility is due to the corresponding human menstrual cycle, which
averages 28 days. The cycle of lunar phases is 29.53 days long.
However, only about 30 percent of women have a cycle length within two
days of the average. According to some traditions, prior to the advent
of modern techniques, surgeons would supposedly refuse to operate on the
full moon because of the increased risk of death of the patient through
As with most folklore and urban legends, the notion behind the lunar
effect has also found its way into the news. For example, it has been
alleged that the full moon may have influenced voter behavior in the US
2000 presidential election. Police in Toledo, Ohio claimed that crime
rises by five percent during nights with a full moon, while police in
Kentucky have also blamed temporary rises in crime on the full moon.
This was based on there being three car chases within a four-hour
period. Senior police officers in Brighton announced in June 2007 that
they were planning to deploy more officers over the summer to counter
trouble they believe is linked to the lunar cycle.
In January 2008, New Zealand's Justice Minister Annette King suggested
that a spate of stabbings in the country could have been caused by the
In October 2009, British politician David Tredinnick asserted that
during a full moon "surgeons will not operate because blood clotting is
not effective and the police have to put more people on the street."