People Go Nuts During a Full Moon

According to journalist Paul Katzeff in Full Moons, there is some truth to this assertion, though scientists differ in their explanations. The murder rate does spike during lunar fullness, but so does romance. The birthrate rises slightly during a full Moon, but so does female ovulation.

The word lunacy, meaning insanity, derives from the Latin words luna/lunaris, for the Moon. Anecdotes abound of people doing strange things every 29 days, 12 hours, 44 minutes, and 3 seconds when it glows full in the sky. Emergency room personnel and paramedics report that their business picks up during the full Moon, and supervisors in psychiatric institutions also insist that their patients grow restive at those times.

There may be some chicken-and-eggism going on here. Do people act differently during the full Moon, or does the full Moon serve as a convenient timing device to peg behavior that goes on all the time? If the brightness of a full Moon keeps light-sensitive people from sleeping, their behavior may well be affected. Some people insist that the gravitational pull of the Moon and Sun on Earth’;s tides also affects the human body, which is “98 percent water.” On this point, the jury of scientific research is still out, but its collective mind is finally looking into quantifying what the average nonscientist has “known” all along.

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