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What Is the Lunar Effect?

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  • Written By: Lee Johnson
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2016
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The lunar effect, or the Transylvania effect, is the belief that the moon’s phases have an effect on the behavior of humans. This effect is believed to cause increased homicides, police and fire service callouts, suicides, domestic violence, kidnappings, assassinations, and even aggression in hockey players. Scientific studies have found no link between the lunar cycle and the multitude of consequences it is linked to. Believers think that because the moon affects the major bodies of water on the earth and the human body is 75 percent water, it would have an effect on humans too.

A multitude of negative events, including major disasters, epilepsy, and admissions to psychiatric hospitals, are believed to be a result of the lunar effect. The belief that werewolves transform during the full moon is also linked to this deep-seated belief. In the late 19th century, an Englishman escaped a murder charge on the basis that the full moon caused him to go insane. Many films, myths, and folklore draw a link between the moon and human behavior. For example, Babylonian folklore claims that women are more fertile during the full moon.

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People believe in the lunar effect because of the moon's effect on water. Earth is made up of two-thirds water, and human beings are composed of 75 percent water. The moon's gravitational pull results in tides on earth, so believers in the lunar effect believe that the moon's gravitational pull on the human body has some sort of effect. The astrological body doesn’t change in size dependent on how much of it is seen, but the full moon is still believed to hold more of an effect than a new moon. It has been noted that a mosquito sitting on a human’s arm has more of a gravitational pull on the person than the moon does, full or not.

The belief in the lunar effect is generally perpetuated through anecdotes and media sensationalism. Many people who speak to nurses hold the belief that the full moon causes more admissions into labor wards, because labor nurses often believe in the effect. Skeptics point out that this anecdotal evidence doesn't prove anything, because no solid figures are involved. It is also possible that nurses don't think anything of busy days on a half or new moon, but the full moon gives them something to blame for a busy day. Newspapers can then report on the anecdotal evidence and make believers out of many readers.

Studies have confirmed that the lunar effect is actually non-existent. Researchers have looked at the effects of the moon on a variety of human activities, but found no statistically significant link between any of them. This includes homicide rates, assassinations, kidnappings, domestic violence, birth rates, assaults, alcoholism and prison violence. Studies have concluded that it is natural for humans to assume a correlation between any two events that occur around the same time. The full moon is noticeable, so if a person witnesses strange behavior, it is erroneously assumed to be related to the glowing orb in the sky.

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