Many paranormal groups claim that ghost activity is heightened during full or new moons. Many trauma nurses and police claim that craziness increases during these times. There have been many reports written that verify these claims, and thus we have the term lunacy derived from the Latin term for the moon -Luna.
Is this for real or is this just madness?
Many ghost groups use a moon information graphic in addition to the space and atmospheric “weather” data on their websites. The claim is that ghost activity is heightened during (or just before/after depending upon the theory) the full or new moon phase. Is there any credibility to these pieces of data? In order to answer this we must first look at the whole belief in “lunacy” in regards to irregular human activity. Belief that the moon can affect someone physically creating insanity, epilepsy, sleep deprivation, and many other illnesses, has persisted for centuries. During the middle ages belief that the moon turned people into werewolves and vampires spread through Europe. Modern day belief is still as strong as ever in the power of full moons due to the folklore that has fueled such belief for centuries.
How would the full moon affect a human being?
The first claim is because of the tidal forces exerted on the world’s oceans. If the moon could create such huge forces in moving water, what kind of an effect would it have on the human body? The first and biggest reality behind this statement is that the moon phase has nothing to do with the tides; it is the distance between the Earth and the moon that dictates these forces. It is not a full or new moon that creates exceptionally large or small tides, but the additional force of gravity of the sun (or lack thereof) that gives the tides the extra (or lacking) boost. The moon does not exert forces on the brain despite a firm belief in this theory. The moon’s effect on tides only affects large open bodies of water (do you see tidal charts on large lakes? I live near Lake Erie and have never seen any change due to tidal forces as the force is extremely small). As mentioned in the article from Scientific American, a mosquito on our arm creates more gravitational force that the moon does during high tide.
So, what about all of those reports about crazy people during full moons, there are tons of reports on this type of stuff, right?
There have been numerous reports done by scientists that did back up crazy behavior due to the full moon. The problem is, many of these studies were flawed in one way or another. One report stated that more traffic accidents during full moons than other phases. The study failed to note that the full moons in question happened during weekends when traffic accidents are typically higher in general in this particular area. Even if a report does imply a heightened amount of accidents, craziness, or other unusual behavior, it cannot be pinned on the full moon as the culprit. Correlation does not mean causation; this refers to the many studies that claim that the full moon has an effect on certain things. These studies are only looking at the correlation of these pieces of data; the full moon and the particular effect. Just because there is a high instance in traffic accidents during a full moon it does not mean the full moon is the root cause. The accidents could have been caused by other factors such as weather, road conditions, construction, etc.
Despite the information I have provided I have witnessed many people argue these facts on several websites that have distributed the information I gathered for this blog. Many people still feel, despite scientific evidence, that the moon does affect us on many different levels. This kind of thought process solidifies our culture in the folkloric belief processes that our forefathers believed in, and their forefathers before them despite any solid evidence or proof to support such beliefs.
Just a few days ago a news story was released on the correlation of full moons and child births. These types of stories, if taken at face value, continue to feed the culture of belief and perpetuate the folklore and misunderstanding about the world around us.
Judging from the paranormal field the belief that full moons affect human life not just in our current status, but transcends life into death as well. As investigators we must look at every possible piece of evidence that can have an effect on a person or location, but with the full moon it seems we are adjusting our beliefs about the moon to fit our beliefs in ghosts as well. Despite this longstanding belief that full moons create good ghost hunting “weather” no one has successfully provided any solid evidence in the form of a balanced (unbiased) scientific study, only in speculation. In order to move forward as a field of science we need to put folklore behind us and embrace science, and the scientific method, fully. The beliefs we have about the full and new moon are wrong and are based on past ignorance, fear, or plain old jumping to conclusions; to continue to believe in these effects is pure lunacy.
Watch a video I produced about this and other fallacies within the paranormal field: The Power of Belief in Paranormal Investigation
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16225704 (hospital falls)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17256692 (psychiatric admissions)
http://clearinghouse.missouriwestern.edu/manuscripts/139.php (criminal activity/crisis calls)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11124174 (dog bites)