Last night was the full moon and, if it’s not too cloudy, tonight’s moon will be a lovely, howl-inspiring sight.
Living in the city, the ambient light make stargazing tough but the moon — on a clear autumn night, is beautiful. It lights up the sky, stirs souls and inspires storytelling.
Do violent crime statistics and emergency room visits actually spike with the full moon? A lot of people believe this to be true. But is it just an urban legend?
I read an interesting, and very reasonable, explanation in an article from Scientific American. Most of the studies done to prove or disprove the hypothesis have failed to show a true statistical uptick — except a study of traffic accidents which happened to occur during a period of months when full moons landed disproportionally on weekends when more people are out driving at night. Once the factor of weekend driving was accounted for, there was no real increase in those accidents.
The article proposed that the anecdotal evidence behind the urban myth came from historical memories of a time before artificial light. The moon would have disturbed sleep patterns, effectively turning night into day for people living outdoors or in minimal shelters. Generations of artificial light later, we still feel drawn to the moonlight and tell old stories about its power because they are part of our shared cultural mythology.
This imaginary power of the moon becomes real because of our belief. That’s the part I like. We are convinced that the moon inspires aggression and loss of reason — lunacy — and so we interpret our observations through the moonlit lens.
Enjoy the full moon. I know I will.