Looney mooney myth debunked again

Many people RELIGIOUSLY believe that the full moon causes people to behave differently – more crime, higher birth rates, busy emergency rooms, general increase in mental issues. Is it true? No, no and no. Science has shown this is positively NOT true and should be put to rest.

But it won’t go away as society continues to just believe it and people look only for evidence that supports their preferred view. Another study has come out that has looked at psychological symptoms of patients who showed up at a hospital emergency room. They found, no correlation with the lunar cycles.

From EurekaAlert:

Contrary to popular belief, there is no connection between lunar phases and the incidence of psychological problems. This is the conclusion reached by a team of researchers directed by Professor Geneviève Belleville of Université Laval’s School of Psychology after having examined the relationship between the moon’s phases and the number of patients who show up at hospital emergency rooms experiencing psychological problems. Details on the study can be found on the website of the scientific journal General Hospital Psychiatry.

To determine whether the widespread belief linking the moon to mental health problems was true, researchers evaluated patients who visited emergency rooms at Montreal’s Sacré-Coeur Hospital and Hôtel-Dieu de Lévis between March 2005 and April 2008. They focused specifically on 771 individuals who showed up at the emergency room with chest pains for which no medical cause could be determined. Psychological evaluations revealed that a sizeable number of these patients suffered from panic attacks, anxiety and mood disorders, or suicidal thoughts.

Here is the paper’s abstract:

Impact of seasonal and lunar cycles on psychological symptoms in the ED: an empirical investigation of widely spread beliefs

Significant seasonal effects were observed on panic and anxiety disorders, with panic more frequently encountered during spring [odds ratio (OR)=1.378, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.002–1.896] and anxiety disorders during summer (OR=1.586, 95% CI=1.037–2.425). Except for one significant finding, no significant effects of lunar cycles were observed. These findings encourage ED professionals and physicians to abandon their beliefs about the influence of lunar cycles on the mental health of their patients. Such unfounded beliefs are likely to be maintained by self-fulfilling prophecies.

The researcher says there may be factors at play that they didn’t consider, “But one thing is certain: we observed no full-moon or new-moon effect on psychological problems.”

Don’t try and discuss this with police or nurses because they get mad. It’s a myth people just love too much to give up.

From Skeptic’s Dictionary:Full moon and lunar effects


  10 comments for “Looney mooney myth debunked again

  1. daran
    November 20, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    not debunked. “They focused specifically on 771 individuals who showed up at the emergency room with chest pains for which no medical cause could be determined.”
    ask any nite club doorman, taxi driver (me) etc.
    ask yourself where the word lunatic came from.
    why would someone affected by the moon go to the hospital?
    the main effect is anger, they get cranky,not anxious

  2. November 20, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    You didn’t click the link with ALL THE OTHER STUDIES.
    This is a myth.
    You are asking me to discern science by the etymology of a word?

    Please read the comment policy, we ask for evidence for such claims if you are going to dispute the science. There are no studies that show that the moon influences behavior beyond people doing what they think they can get away with because of the widespread myth of the full moon.

  3. Rand
    November 21, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    I think this particular study isnt particularly good at debunking lunar “madness” because it is too narrowly focused on a small subset of patients. Better studies would be those which examine all emergency room visits of any type, or all police arrests, etc. (None of those sorts of studies ever revealed any correlation either)

  4. One Eyed Jack
    November 21, 2012 at 11:54 AM

    Ha! Tell that to David Naughton!

  5. Brian
    November 21, 2012 at 3:32 PM

    It may not be true- but there’s always the placebo effect. For an example of what I mean, go read up on Orson Wells’ “War of the Worlds” radio show. No martians, no gas- and people panicking right and left. People “seeing” martians, smelling the poison gas, you name it. The belief that the full moon causes problems? It doesnt, but…. it does in people’s minds.

  6. November 21, 2012 at 6:19 PM

    It’s a myth that people panicked all that much. It was likely exaggerated. http://www.livescience.com/331-voice-reason-war-worlds-truths-myths.html

    I don’t think people really do think the full moon is license to act weird. Mostly, they seem to attribute a bad day to it, “must be a full moon,” and never ACTUALLY check. I usually make a point to say, “No, it’s not.” That pisses them off.

  7. One Eyed Jack
    November 22, 2012 at 5:32 AM

    Ask 10 random people on any day what the current cycle of the moon is and I doubt that even one of them would know. It’s just not something most people pay attention to. It’s impossible to have a placebo effect if you’re not even aware of the event.

    The “War of the Worlds” is a poor example. As Sharon said, the stories are exaggerated. If someone did reacted to the story, it was because they believed they were hearing an actual news broadcast. I don’t see how a placebo effect applies.

  8. skinner
    November 22, 2012 at 9:21 AM

    I am a psychologist and for 5 years I worked on an inpatient child and adolescent psychiatric unit. Almost every staff member had the belief full moons were correlated with admissions. So during a down period I gathered all of the admission to the adult and psychiatric units and plotted them by the cycle of the moon. I put the chart up where everyone could see it. The most frightening thing was the cognitive tricks they played on themselves when the data clearly showed an equal distribution of admissions. Those talking of the placebo effect are missing confirmation bias that is common in this scenerio.

  9. Am_Sci
    November 23, 2012 at 12:34 AM

    Wow! An actual “argument from etymology.” I’ve read about them in philosophy books but never actually seen it used in the wild. Thanks, Daran.

    And I think you may be experiencing “confirmation bias.” I strongly suggest you research the term.

  10. November 28, 2012 at 5:36 AM

    If you think about it, moonlight is just reflected sunlight.
    Nothing special here, folks.

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