Monday, 9 February 2009

Does a full moon really trigger bizarre behaviour?

It's a commonly held belief, even within the medical profession, that a full moon leads people to 'play up' or malfunction in some way - at a higher rate than normal, anyway.  Over the years, it has been claimed that a full moon causes a rise in anything from murders to psychiatric admissions.  Of course, this is an empirical claim, and so it is quite amenable to scientific studies.  What do the results show?

There is a more serious problem for fervent believers in the lunar lunacy effect: no evidence that it exists. Florida International University psychologist James Rotton, Colorado State University astronomer Roger Culver and University of Saskatchewan psychologist Ivan W. Kelly have searched far and wide for any consistent behavioral effects of the full moon. In all cases, they have come up empty-handed. By combining the results of multiple studies and treating them as though they were one huge study—a statistical procedure called  meta-analysis—they have found that full moons are entirely unrelated to a host of events, including crimes, suicides, psychiatric problems and crisis center calls. In their 1985 review of 37 studies entitled “Much Ado about the Full Moon,” which appeared in one of psychology’s premier journals, Psychological Bulletin, Rotton and Kelly humorously bid adieu to the full-moon effect and concluded that further research on it was unnecessary.

Enough said.  Go here to read more.

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