Lunar Lunacy

Being a college freshman comes with a lot of firsts. It seems common among us to be taken back by some of the different activities that cause the upperclassmen to act rather strange. While I walk back to my dorm and look up to see a full moon and then look down to see a group of flailing men screaming and throwing stuff for no reason on a Tuesday night, one starts to wonder if the moon really causes people to act crazy. “Lunar Lunacy” as this blog is entitled, has been somewhat of a folk tale for years. Many hospital employees along with police officers who work long into the night will say that crazier stuff happens when there is a full moon. But how could this be true?

Aristotle theorized that since the moon pulls on the tide of the oceans, and that we are made up of 80% water, then the moon is somehow affecting the water in our central nervous system. But, the likelihood of the moon affecting the water in us is very slight. James Rotton, a psychologist from Florida International University along with Colorado State University astronomer Roger Culver and University of Saskatchewan psychologist Ivan W. Kelly have studied the effects of a full moon quite often. These men looked at many previous studies of the effects of a full moon and combined all of the statistics as if they were one large study. The researchers concluded that it was unnecessary to continue research on the topic of lunar lunacy.

While there have been some studies that show there were more car accidents on evenings of a full moon, it was not taken into account that the full moons fell on weekends when more people were driving. Lunar lunacy is almost definitively psychological. “Psychologists Loren and Jean Chapman termed “illusory correlation”—the perception of an association that does not in fact exist.” Meaning, that if something strange happens during a full moon, people are likely to remember it rather than something strange happening on a regular day. If you remember specific events more vividly, your mind will accept these theories more willingly.

Tests have been done, as previously noted, but mostly in small numbers in 50 or less. To get a really good reading on lunar lunacy, a large scale project needs to be taken on. I feel like this would be easily done on college students being as they are in large quantity. Something to note about research such as this, is that results may suffer from the Texas sharp shooter problem. If a group of people are examined for one night during a full moon, they are bound to have things in common. While doing tests like this may be fun in theory, they are basically unnecessary being as it is all psychological.

Works Cited:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lunacy-and-the-full-moon/?page=2

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20131029-does-a-full-moon-make-people-mad

1 thought on “Lunar Lunacy

  1. Chelsea Jaye Silbiger

    I completely agree. Given all of the things that people have measured the Texas sharp shooter problem could effect the conclusion that there is a correlation between a full moon and people acting out. It is also interesting to think about the many movies, books and television shows that have incorporated the idea of “Lunar Lunacy”. Considering the many people who have read or scene the Twilight Saga, which focuses on the moon and how it effects vampires, it is no wonder that so many people believe in the “Lunar Lunacy”. When surrounded by media that presents a wide audience with fictional information people may unknowingly take said information as the truth.

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