Anecdotal evidence and traditional cultures suggest subtle increases in 'loony' or 'witching' behaviours-violence, suicide, psychiatric distur-bances and crime-during full moons. The police gird themselves for more crime and stranger phone calls than usual, while psychiatric hospitals prepare for higher admission rates, other hospitals for a greater number of births and teachers for more unruly classrooms.
Like Son of Sam, the notorious Charles Hyde-the inspiration behind Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde-committed his murders under a full moon.
So-called 'lunar syndrome' particularly affects absenteeism. Studies show far more visits to the doctor during a full moon, and also more anxiety, depression, insomnia and other psychological disturbances.
The moon appears to destabilize us, making us more violent. Homicides, road accidents, accidental poisonings, suicides and casualty admissions all increase during full and new moons.
In Dade County, FL, homicides rose in remarkable tandem with the full or new moon over a 15-year period, and tailed off significantly at other times. Aggravated assaults and fatal traffic accidents also cluster around the full moon (J Clin Psychiatry, 1978; 39: 385-92). In addition, a study of more than 34,000 crimes showed that they had more frequently taken place during a full moon (J Psychol, 1976; 93: 81-3).
Are we loonier during a full moon? Just the reverse, according to a study of nearly 19,000 patients in a psychi-atric hospital over an 11-year period. Times of psychosis peaked during the new moon, but were at their lowest during the full moon (Compr Psychiatry, 1977; 18: 369-74). Looking at nearly 8000 emergency calls to suicide-prevention centres over a two-year period, the highest number, again, occurred during a new moon, not a
full one (Psychol Rep, 1977; 40: 387-90).
Moonlight and gambling
Parapsychologist Dr Dean Radin has conducted considerable research into the impact of the moon on psychic ability and intuition. He has also analyzed payouts from roulette machines, keno, blackjack, craps, slot machines and all five games together to determine whether payouts at a Nevada casino tracked with the moon.
First, Radin found a relationship between the earth's geomagnetic field (GMF) and the lunar cycle: at times of either a new or full moon, the earth's GMF was at its quietest. He then anal-yzed casino data from 1991 to 1994 to see whether or not the highest payouts happened during days of geomagnetic calm and full moons.
Over those four years, he found a significant increase in payouts, with percentages at their highest (78.5 per cent) during full moons, and lowest a week before and after the new moon. So, on average, gamblers of all games received a return of $78.50 for every dollar spent playing all five games. "Gambling on or near days of the full moon, and by avoiding the casino on or near days of the new moon, over the long-term, gamblers may be able to boost their payout percentage by about 2 per cent," writes Radin.
The peak average payout rate for blackjack was three days before the full moon; for craps, it was three days after the full moon; for keno, it was one day after the full moon; and for roulette, one day before the full moon.
However, the most fascinating result was with slot-machines. Over the four-year study period, four of the six jackpots took place within one day of the full moon.
Radin decided to look at lottery winnings during a year in which the lunar cycle correlated with a high GMF-when the GMF was high during times of full moons. During that year, he discovered, lottery winnings were not at their highest during full moons.
The general belief has been that any lunar influence is due to the gravita-tional effects of the sun and moon-as with the tides-and because we are 75-per-cent water, the moon affects us as it does the ocean. However, tides pre-dictably occur every 12 hours, whereas lunar effects are seen only once or twice a month. Up to now, this has led researchers to look for a simple relationship (such as an effect only with the full moon), whereas the truth may well be far more complex.
The most likely explanation, according to Franz Halberg of the Uni-versity of Minnesota's Chronobiology Laboratories, is a subtle geomagnetic effect, or an influence of the moon on the sun's well-known geomagnetic effect. During a full moon, the earth sits between the moon and the sun, so both bodies enter the earth's GMF but, during a new moon, the moon sits between the sun and earth, and is furthest away from our planet's GMF. It is likely that the moon's placement impedes or amplifies the geomagnetic pull of the sun and earth's GMF, mak-ing it either stronger or weaker. Also, the lunar synodic month (29.5 days) is approximately the same length of time as the full rotation of the sun.
Stanford University geophysicist Anthony Fraser-Smith has evidence of a relationship between the moon and earth's GMF during lunar eclipses. Studies of lunar samples brought back by Apollo flights also show evidence of strong magnetic fields in the rock, and this could be causing a magnetic shift when the moon passes through the earth's geomagnetic 'tail', as happens during a new moon.
The gravitational pull of any planet is extraordinarily small, and many scientists don't believe that, on its own, it would have much effect on the earth's GMF. However, others, includ-ing Halberg, believe that there are 'tidal' effects, when the gravitational forces of planets also interact with the magnetic fields of the sun and moon, and the solar wind. This, then, would have a cumulative effect, possibly leading to profound effects on climate and biology (Braz J Med Biol Res, 1996; 29: 1069-72). Indeed, even primitive life forms, such as mollusks, appear to react to geomagnetic fields differently, depending on the phase of the moon (Braz J Med Biol Res, 1996; 29: 1069-72).
Brazilian researchers have investi-gated these so-called 'lunisolar tidal waves', and have demonstrated that geomagnetic activity-and more so gravitation-can be correlated with conditions such as epilepsy (Braz J Med Biol Res, 1996; 29: 1069-72).
Such resonance effects can also occur between planets if their rota-tional periods are in a mathematical relationship. For instance, the moon rotates around the earth over the same time period that it rotates on its own axis. Other planets may circle around each other at two to three times the time it takes them to rotate on their own axes. These relationships can slow down or speed up the rotation slightly and affect weather and even biological life. This suggests we can only begin to control our biology and maximize our mental health when we take account of solar and lunar activity.
WDDTY VOL 21 NO 3