the Culture Bomb

The effect of the full moon on human behavior

We recently ushered in the Fall of 2010. Several of my Facebook friends were updating their status involving something to do with the full moon and the effect it has on peoples behavior. Being one that is quite interested in astrology, I tend to stay home during a full moon. I even remember once that I posted on Facebook in regards to cautionary measures I felt people should take on that particular night because I had a feeling the full moon was going to cause people to behave strangely.

That is until I did a little investigating. As it turns out, there is no biological, psychological, or neuroscientific evidence to support this claim. Of course that doesn’t mean there isn’t any relationship, different groups of scientists setup studies with different conditions and different levels of quality.

At one point I imagined that since the Moon controls Earth’s tides, and our bodies were mostly made of water, that this must be where the correlation occurs.  That is of course until I came across psychologist Arnold Lieber, and his 1978 bestseller, “How The Moon Affects You.” His argument asserts the very same theory, and scientists just can’t seem to prove him right.

So we are left to the Anthropologists and Historians to explain this meme. And what they say is simple. Before electric lighting, the moon was our night light. When it was full and bright, it was more likely to wake a person up in the middle of the night. Grumpiness would ensue, and probably acts associated with grumpiness in the “Dark Ages”. Now factor in a mostly non-literate, non-media reliant populace who invented stories for entertainment. Mythology is littered with creatures and events taking place during the full moon. Through the centuries, we’ve decided to toss aside the things we don’t like or believe as fiction. I’ve never seen a live Werewolf have you? But in 19th century England, lawyers were using the “Not guilty by reason of the full moon” defense and it worked (sometimes). This meme just kind of stuck around, maybe because people believe it and it’s saturated our culture right down to the subconscious, giving them an imaginary license to behave irregularly?

“I bet the police, and E.R. are abnormally busy during a full moon.”

http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/moon.html

This link provides the results of just such a study, so you can see for yourself. I consider this meme debunked in the practical sense. It will however take awareness of such evidence to actually eradicate this meme from our culture and that may never occur.

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This entry was published on September 27, 2010 at 3:20 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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