Saturday, February 23, 2008

Does a Full Moon Influence Human Behavior?

The Moon is known to have a huge effect on the ocean's tides. The mechanism, in simple terms, goes like this: While the moon's gravitational force causes the water to rise up, the earth is also pulling downwards, causing tides. Water levels are dependent upon the force of the moon. So with a full moon comes the high tide. And from this observation, the concept of the moon affecting human behavior evolved. This is because the human body is 80 percent water. It is believed that just like the ocean, when the moon is full, there will also be an upset of water balance in the human body, causing a person to behave irrationally.

The fullness of the moon has always been blamed for catastrophes in both nature and human beings. It got worse over the years that even insanity, which is believed to be fluctuating with the phases of the moon, is given another name "lunacy"(comes from the Latin word 'luna' which means moon). In some cases, the moon was used as an excuse of a committed crime. England lawyers in the 19th-century used the "guilty by reason of the full moon" defense for their cases - pointing out that their clients could not be held responsible for acting under the control of the moon.

Psychologist Arnold Lieber, from the University of Miami, dug deeper into this theory. The year was 1974 when he began conducting studies centered on the crime rates of Miami-Dade County in Florida. From the data gathered, he concluded that full moon has direct effect over the increase in homicide rates. He is so sure with his findings that he contacted the media, Miami police, and a hospital administrator to warn them about the danger that comes with a full moon. In 1978 he wrote a best-selling book called, "Lunar Effects: Biological Tides and Human Emotions", which made his studies more known to the general public. Lieber didn't stop there; he published another book in 1996 and continued to expand his theory about the moon's influence on human behavior.

As years go by, there are more claims about the moon's force causing human madness. From anxiety and aggression to psychotic crimes committed, all are believed to be due to the fullness of the moon. Despite all these declarations, many scientists and experts in human behavior are skeptical. The said observations are thought to be inconsistent and that the data gathered is affected by people's superstitious belief about the moon.

A huge possibility of "selective memory" might also be involved; when something strange happens and the moon is full, people might notice the moon and assign blame. But when the same event happen to them at other times, they tend to forget about it. It's like the moon is put to blame just because it was present at that very time. There is a clear failure of distinction between correlation and causation here. A relation existing between two events, does not really mean that one event causes the other. So just because a study discovered a relationship between the full moon and a particular behavior, doesn't necessarily mean the moon is the reason why it happened.

Ivan Kelly, a psychologist at the University of Saskatchewan, is among of the many skeptics of Lieber's study. She conducted her own investigation of lunar cycles and behavior to prove her doubts. And sure enough her findings show that the moon has no affectations on human behavior. She stated that there has been a bias in the confirmation and added, "Some beliefs are just exciting to hold, whatever the evidence." Kelly is right this myth remained despite of several findings proving no connection between the moon's gravity over mans insanity. People have embraced it over the years, whatever proof there is.

More of the full moon here ...

1 comment:

Angle Girl said...

that is cool that picher is to