How the Moon Affects Us

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The idea that the phases of the moon are linked to the human psyche is one of the oldest and most pervasive examples of folk lore and mythology. It is woven into the fabric of our classic literature, poetry and music. Even today, a surprising number of people believe that our deepest emotions and mental states are influenced by the lunar cycle, and there are plenty of police officers, doctors, nurses and prison guards who would swear blind they’ve seen evidence of it in their everyday lives. But is the lunar effect real? How and why does it work? Humans have spent thousands of years discussing the lunar effect in stories and legends, and the last 40 years documenting it in the academic literature. So what’s the verdict? How does the moon affect us?

In it’s simplest form, the Werewolf exemplifies our most primitive understanding of a link between human behaviour and emotion and the moon. It captures our idea that during the full moon, man becomes wild, violent and instinctive, a reversion to a more basal, less civilised version of ourselves. This is probably the most pervasive aspect of the myth, that the moon controls human aggression, impulsivity, violence and mood. But the lunar effect has also been proposed for a range of scenarios so broad it will make your mind boggle. A quick google search will tell you that the moon controls our fertility and reproduction, influences violent crime, suicide and even traffic accidents, affects seizures, blood loss, sleep quality and even our political leanings. All of this begs the question, how and why might such a mechanism exist?

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7 comments on “How the Moon Affects Us

  1. The research that was done that did not show increases in police calls, and in hospitals were all done by the administration. The studies were not designed to determine if there was a lunar effect or not. They were undertaken to determine if staffing had to be modified to account for the lunar effects. All of the studies ignored the rules to determine if there really was a lunar effect and manipulated the data in such a fashion to show to the unions that they did not have to alter staffing. Many popular magazines, news agencies and journals have reported that the results negated a lunar effect. This is not true. What the studies show is that the data was never published for any of the studies that claimed to show no lunar effect and that all of them were only undertaken so that the organizations did not have to hire extra staff to cover the additional workload.

  2. Claire, this is really good.

    It’s so nice to find a writer on a modern-day internet blog who doesn’t merely regurgitate saleable soundbites, but takes the time to do real research and produce a cogent argument.

    I shall return to this article and this site, because I am a skeptic who is not easily moved by unscientific nonsense. However I struggle to make good debunking arguments, for while it is easy to see that an idea is nonsense, it takes a lot of descriptive effort and understanding of the contesting scientific principles to enter a debate with someone who is enamoured of pseudoscience.

    What is especially refreshing is that you present a debunking which is sympathetic, non-aggressive and not enamoured of your own rational thinking skills. Which is excellent when you have to speak to real people, very often nice people, who’ve simply become captive to bad ideas.

    Perhaps you could unite all similar articles under a “debunking” tag or somesuch? I would really appreciate it.

    • Chris,

      Thanks so much for your kind words – it’s comments like this that keep me wanting to work on Curious Meerkat! I love the idea of a ‘debunking’ tag, I will definitely add that to the site :)


  3. My wife has schizophrenia and dimentia. I observe marked changes in her, not on the full moon or new moon, but a day or two prior. These changes are also observable during the afternoons (sundowners). I wonder if the lunar effects are due to the moon perturbing earth’s magnetosphere or blocking the solar wind. I concur with your analysis of the effect of sleep on her also, as I monitor her CPAP stats daily and find she does better when well rested. I also see corelations between her episodes and her emotional biorhythm cycle.

  4. Hello! On the other hand, I’d love to get my hands on some research or theories, even “pseudo-scientist” theories that prove the effect of the moon on humans and animals (the effect on marine life is quite demostrated, right). Can you help me?
    I’m also particularly interested on the beliefs of ancient cultures, and how they plan their lives around the moon cycles. I can’t find that either!
    Can somebody help?Please?

    I want to believe that the moon cycle, as well as other natural cycles (day/year) are a better (or more fun) way to plan our lives than Cuupertino time. Or at least, a bit more fun.
    Check my youtube chanel

    • How do they know that human contact with moon surface or any other planet won’t have any effect on planet earth?

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