The Lunar Effect

There's a full moon tonight (had a great view of it here in San Diego). This has inspired WSAW in Wisconsin to phone up a local Professor and quiz him about the "lunar effect":

A common superstition says accidents, natural disasters, and bizarre crimes increase during a full moon.
One Psychology professor says there is no scientific evidence to support a connection between the moon and our moods.
The UW-Marathon County Professor has worked in the Psychology field for more than 20 years.
He says for centuries, our culture has relied on the urban legend known as "The Lunar Effect" to explain the unexplainable.
The Professor says the lack of scientific proof doesn't mean the urban legend isn't true.
"It's probably not the type of things studied by scientists because they may not take it seriously," says Asst. Prof. Marlowe Embree.

Actually, I think there have been quite a few scientific studies of the lunar effect. At least, Google Scholar pulls up a bunch.

Urban Legends

Posted on Mon Nov 02, 2009


I love that this year, full moon was on Halloween. Just seemed right, somehow
Posted by Nona  on  Tue Nov 03, 2009  at  05:40 AM
Actually, it wasn't completely full on Halloween. See Full Moon Calendar. But it was still pretty big!
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Tue Nov 03, 2009  at  07:59 AM
Yes, there have been a number of studies examining, for example, crimes reported during full moons or emergency room admissions during full moons compared to other times. None that I have heard of found any correlation.

That's actually a little surprising, since you would guess that things like burglaries would be more common during full moons simply because there's better light to steal by (quite apart from any mysterious effect on people's psyches). But you would be wrong.

WSAW (W-Saw?) didn't do its research in much depth, did it?
Posted by Big Gary  in  Relampago, Texas  on  Tue Nov 03, 2009  at  08:16 AM
I know when I go out burglaring I always choose a gibbous moon, preferably with scuttling clouds.
Posted by Joel B1  in  Hobart, Tasmania  on  Tue Nov 03, 2009  at  03:19 PM
Here's a fun thing to do when you meet somebody who steadfastly maintains that "crazy things happen during a full moon."

Ask them what phase the moon is in right now. Most of the time, they have no idea. "Hmm, you know, if more crazy things really happened during a full moon, it seems like you'd be keeping close track of the moon phases, so you'd know when you stay home..."
Posted by Frosted Donut  in  Mercer Island  on  Wed Nov 04, 2009  at  11:42 AM
A bright full moon would actually be something you wouldn't want while you're being a burglar. The darker the night is, the better. So I'd expect a full moon to reduce the amount of burglaries and other such sneaky stuff.

On the other hand, I'd imagine that many weird people will gladly take the excuse of it being a full moon to go out and do their weird things, so I'd also be not at all surprised to learn that the incidence of antisocial or disruptive behaviour overall increases a bit during full moons.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Wed Nov 04, 2009  at  12:38 PM
Those pundits that sit in arm chairs or in front of computers are talking out of the orfice of their choice. As a Child Protective Service worker and later Adult Protective Service worker, there was definitely an increase in calls during a full moon.
Posted by Roger  in  Hilo  on  Wed Nov 04, 2009  at  01:30 PM
Roger in Hilo:
This is quite interesting. Are there statistics to prove this?
Posted by Big Gary  in  Relampago, Texas  on  Wed Nov 04, 2009  at  05:02 PM
So, if we are to believe this "lunar effect", if I get the logic correct, wacky behavior is at it's PEAK during a full moon? If not, the "logic" behind lunar effect" is BS... But, if this is true, this should ALSO indicate that when there is no moon, wacky behavior should be non existent. To put it another way, when there is no moon in the sky, we should be able to find all the cops hanging out in the donut shop sipping coffee waiting for the moon to reappear so they can get back to work...
Posted by Christopher  in  Warm, sunny Florida  on  Sun Nov 08, 2009  at  07:40 PM
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