The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Eclipses, Moon Myths & Lunacy

Posted by mattusmaximus on December 21, 2010

This winter solstice, the night of December 20th and early morning of the 21st, will bear witness to a full lunar eclipse. It seems to me that every time such an event takes place it brings forth all manner of myths & misconceptions regarding the moon and its supposed effects.  So, in the spirit of this evening lunar eclipse, I wanted to pass along to you all the straight science regarding some of the more loonie (pardon the pun) claims regarding the moon.

First, here is some scientifically reliable information regarding lunar eclipses…

Now, on to some of the myths regarding the moon: I want to share with you two good articles that examine many of the pseudoscientific claims regarding the moon, one from LiveScience.com and the other from the Skeptic’s Dictionary

Moon Myths: The Truth About Lunar Effects on You

The moon holds a mystical place in the history of human culture, so it’s no wonder that many myths — from werewolves to induced lunacy to epileptic seizures — have built up regarding its supposed effects on us.

“It must be a full moon,” is a phrase heard whenever crazy things happen and is said by researchers to be muttered commonly by late-night cops, psychiatry staff and emergency room personnel. …

Full moon and lunar effects

The full moon has been linked to crime, suicide, mental illness, disasters, accidents,  birthrates, fertility, and werewolves, among other things. Some people even buy and sell stocks according to phases of the moon, a method probably as successful as many others. Numerous studies have tried to find lunar effects. So far, the studies have failed to establish much of interest. Lunar effects that have been found have little or nothing to do with human behavior, e.g., the discovery of a slight effect of the moon on global temperature,* which in turn might have an effect on the growth of plants. Of course, there have been single studies here and there that have found correlations between various phases of the moon and this or that phenomenon, but nothing significant has been replicated sufficiently to warrant claiming a probable causal relationship. …


2 Responses to “Eclipses, Moon Myths & Lunacy”

  1. roger said

    this past evening at the beginning of the lunar eclipse the morning of dec. 21 2010 (Winter solstice) i was witness to a siezure.. Ironically, on June 21st on this past summers solstice the same person had a siezure during the night as well…… there has been only on two other siezures involving that person in the last year….. in jan 2010 and in august sometime. Based on the fact that only two out of 365 days in the year are solstice, and only 4 siezures happened in the last year, I would conclude by the math that there is less than a half a percent chance the solstice/moon energy didn’t have anything to do with it…… science schmience… actions speak louder than thought experiments… what we can’t prove to ourselves, doesn’t have to be passed off as myth, or not possible, we just don’t have the tools to prove it.

    • mattusmaximus said

      This is a classic example of counting the hits & not counting the misses – also known as cherry-picking. I’m fairly certain that the vast majority of people who are epileptic or susceptible to seizures do NOT have seizures during full moons, solstices, etc. Once one incorporates the number of such people who DON’T have problems during specific points in the moon cycle or on the solstices, then it becomes pretty clear there is no causal connection.

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