EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


August 18, 2013

Does the moon make kids more active?

Dear Doctor,

Recently we read that the moon causes some mental illnesses. The study said they had proof. We have often thought our children were more active during a full moon. Is there any book you could recommend?

Dear Readers,

There is no book I would, nor could recommend.

The moon has been implicated or connected to human behavior since ancient times. Keep in mind the heavens caught the imagination of the ancients with the notion that they somehow controlled or predicted human behavior.

This view is still held by many today.

The moon, in particular, has been blamed for more negative acting out. Such terms as “lunatic” and “lunacy” are based on the Latin word for moon, Luna.

The recent study you mention has captured some press. I have not read the original text. Based upon what I have read, the study joins hundreds of others making similar claims.

For example, one study done in Connecticut some decades ago researched inmates behavior in a state hospital. It asserted that incidents of violent behavior increased with the full moon. The study was later not replicated. The behavior was more likely connected to the pay day for the staff.

The present study is flawed by an excluded middle design. If thee results were positively correlated with different phases of the moon and that with very significant results, then I would give the results a second look. The other factor is an intervening variable such as brighter nights and wakefulness.

Your children are more likely responding to you, not the moon. Sorry about that!

To the moon! Research is full of holes

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