The Charm Of The Moon, Studies By D. Redelmeier

Donald Redelmeier’s studies show some data to support a belief: When there is a full moon, more road accidents occur. Wehr and Avery are two psychiatrists who have found evidence of what appears to be another lunar influence.
The charm of the moon, studies by D. Redelmeier

Donald Redelmeier’s studies on the effects of the moon were published in the British Medical Journal. According to these studies, the fascination of the full moon would affect the increase in the number of road accidents and tragic deaths. At least, this is what Redelmeier says after having collected and analyzed a series of data from different countries around the world.

Donald Redelmeier’s studies were published in the Christmas issue of the prestigious magazine. This edition is published every year and presents interesting, surprising and enjoyable research, always based on “scientific facts”.

For a long time we have been talking about the charm of the moon. It has inspired poets, lovers and scientists of all time. It shines in the night like an oasis shrouded in mystery. But does it really have an influence on us, to the point of causing road accidents and tragic deaths? Donald Redelmeier’s studies say yes.

Moon shrouded in clouds

Donald Redelmeier’s studies

Donald Redelmeier’s studies have a statistical basis. This scientist – a researcher at the University of Toronto – together with his colleague Eldar Shafir – a researcher at Princeton University – conducted a particular analysis. The two tracked traffic accidents that took place between 1975 and 2014, in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

They were looking for standard patterns, which they spotted, not exactly the way they hoped. Thanks to their research, they managed to trace an interesting fact: on full moon nights, road accidents increase and, consequently, the number of injuries and deaths.

According to the data, there were 988 nights without a full moon in the time span analyzed. In those nights, 8535 road accidents had occurred, resulting in an average of 8.64 deaths per night.

In the same time frame, there had been 494 full moon nights. In those nights there were 4,494 road accidents, with an average of 9.1 deaths per night. The average, during the nights of the so-called “super moons” increased to 10.6.

The fault seems to be the charm of the moon. It has been speculated that many drivers are dumbfounded by its beauty and, therefore, get distracted. This would be the reason behind the accidents.

The charm of the moon

Donald Redelmeier’s studies represent an anecdotal way to answer a question that humans have been asking for thousands of years. What kind of influence does the moon have on human behavior? The legend of the werewolf is an imaginative way to answer: the most animalistic instincts manifest themselves when there is a full moon.

Beyond mere fantasy, there are not a few who have hypothesized a close correlation between the moon and human behavior. Without going too far, Aristotle was convinced that the attacks of madness and epilepsy had a direct correlation with the phases of the moon. Pliny the Elder, a Roman naturalist, was in complete agreement with this hypothesis.

On the other hand, the word “lunatic” entered popular language precisely in reference to those abrupt changes of conduct, especially on full moon nights. From a scientific point of view, there are several studies on this. None of these are entirely valid, except one. Let’s see which one.

Sea man and full moon

An interesting study

British psychiatrist David Avery had a very special patient. The latter suffered from bipolar disorder and was also a very methodical person with an investigative spirit. For this reason he had decided to compile a very detailed log on his mood swings, which were extreme. When Harvey approached the study of his patient’s notes, he noticed that the fluctuations of sleep coincided with the fluctuations of the lunar tides.

The conclusions turned out to be absurd for the psychiatrist, who dismissed the case. Yet another well-known psychiatrist, Thomas Wehr, published an article in which it was observed that 17 patients with bipolar disorder exhibited very interesting regularity in their mood swings; these changes coincided with the cycles of the lunar tides. This study was based on observations made over several years.

The two psychiatrists met and joined forces. Both presented their conclusions on several public occasions and, from an empirical point of view, these are correct. Such a coincidence exists. However, other scientists believe that there is another factor affecting this phenomenon that has not been identified.

Most of them refuse to take the correlation between the moon and human conduct seriously, because there is no physical basis that can prove it. Indeed, the Wehr and Avery data were not supported by other studies. Nonetheless, for sure there will be new ones shedding light where there are still shadows.

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