Is There Any Truth to “Lunar Lunacy”?

MBB asks: “Is there any truth to the belief that the full moon makes crazy things happen?”Bats flying in the night

Great question!

“It must be a full moon!” is an oft-repeated quip made by everyone from policemen to hospital staff whenever a rash of crime or emergency room visits occur. Sometime they do happen on the night of a full moon – but this alleged uptick in “lunar lunacy” also has an equal chance of happening on any other night of the month which is why the “full moon crazies” has found little or no support when put to the scientific test.

First of all, the basis for this belief is founded in the fact that because the human body is about 75 percent water, and the moon does have an effect on the tides, then it must have an effect on us too.

The problem with this theory is that it’s based on a flawed understanding of why – and how – the moon effects tides.

As this article in LiveScience explains, the moon and the sun combine to create tides in the Earth’s oceans, which occur because of the difference in gravitational effect on one side of the earth compared to the other.

“The ocean on the side of Earth facing the moon gets pulled toward the moon more than does the center of the planet. This creates a high tide. On the other side of the Earth, another high tide occurs, because the center of Earth is being pulled toward the moon more than is the ocean on the far side. The result essentially pulls the planet away from the ocean (a negative force that effectively lifts the ocean away from the planet).”

However, this phenomenon doesn’t work on the human because our bodies are too small to be impacted in such a way. In fact, there is no measurable difference in the moon’s gravitational effect from one side of the body to the other.

This being said, there’s been no shortage of studies testing whether the lunar phases have any impact on births, heart attacks, deaths, suicides, violence, psychiatric hospital admissions and epileptic seizures, etc. No connections have been found.

The article offers a long list of reputable studies on this phenomenon that have been published in peer-reviewed journals over the years.

New Agers like to say that the phases of the moon determine “subtle energy” frequencies that can impact our thoughts, feelings and emotions. The only problem with this theory is that “subtle energies” are considered to be a form of putative energy which does not exist.

Astrologers base all of their predictions on an alleged effect of the position of the stars and planets upon us, but this too is unsubstantiated. Scientiests tried to prove this for a very long time, in fact, and consistently came up short, which is why they no longer bother to look for it. So much for astrology.

Even though it might be fun to speculate about the impact a full moon and the stars and planets might have on our world, the only impact we can be sure of is the exquisite beauty they lend to our nights.


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