Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: Does the Moon affect your sleep, health, and mood swings? (BBC article)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Posts
    3,199

    Question Does the Moon affect your sleep, health, and mood swings? (BBC article)

    I was startled to see this article on lunar effects on human personality (and bipolar episodes), in the BBC venue. Withholding opinions for now.

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2019...-and-wellbeing

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Very near, yet so far away
    Posts
    239
    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    I was startled to see this article on lunar effects on human personality (and bipolar episodes), in the BBC venue. Withholding opinions for now.

    http://www.bbc.com/future/story/2019...-and-wellbeing
    I was amused by the seemingly un-ironic text :
    Being a problem-solver, the man had been keeping meticulous records of these patterns, trying to make sense of it all. Avery closely studied these records and scratched his head: “It was the rhythmicity of it that intrigued me,” he says. To him, it looked very much like the patient’s mood and sleep patterns were tracking the waxing and waning of the Moon.

    Avery initially dismissed his hunch as lunacy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    26,713
    The article is clearly complete nonsense because of several obvious logical fallacies. Whether or not the research being reported on is nonsense is harder to judge without a lot more information.

    As for the logical fallacies of the article, here are just a few:
    1) It acts as if citing ancient superstitions somehow supports the conclusions of the research, when in fact ancient superstitions have no bearing because we know ancient superstitions are nonsense, as they include things like breaking mirrors and seeing black cats gives bad luck, and what the orientation of the stars would have been at night a thousand years ago on your birthday (but not on your actual birthday) somehow affects your personality. So we already know that people will believe all kinds of silly things that have zero evidence in favor of them, so why would citing yet one more thing people believe will zero evidence lend any credence to this research? In fact, the article frames the complete failure of these ideas as working scientific models in disingenuous language: "but an scientific evidence for this... is inconsistent." News flash: in science, what we call a model that is "inconsistent" is a failed model, it doesn't mean the jury is still out because it hasn't been disproven, it means it doesn't work.
    2) The article reports that the research says: "some people’s mood swings appeared to follow a 14.8-day cycle, others a 13.7-day cycle." OK, no one has to be a mathematician to look up some simple numbers and find the logical fallacy here. There are two lunar cycles that could conceivably be relevant, one is the location of the Moon as seen from Earth relative to the stars (that's called the sidereal month, and it is 27.32 days) and the other is the location of the Moon as seen relative to the Sun (that's called the lunar month, and it is 29.53 days.) The two cycles being reported are pretty coincidentally related to those two types of lunar cycles, but what should be really obvious to anyone is that you could not have some people whose bodies care about where the Moon is relative to the stars, and others where it is relative to the Sun. That's just obvious nonsense. It would be a stretch to think other could matter spit, but you might imagine that how the Moon looks in the sky (lunar month) could possibly have some small effect, and you might imagine that where it is relative to the stars could plug into some kind of cosmic timetable (a real stretch, to say the least), but to think that some do one and others do the other takes stretch credibility and completely shatters it. What is quite clearly going on there is if you look hard enough for a cycle in any dataset, and you allow yourself to use two different possibilities (and even let yourself "switch back and forth" between the two whenever you need to), you are going to push a correlation into your dataset if you want it badly enough.


    As the article continues, it seems to completely forget about these two flaws. It completely drops the 13.7 day cycle, focusing entirely on the full moon (which connects only to the 14.8 day cycle, and not at all to 13.7). Then instead of considering the way the Moon actually affects humans (moonlight), it says artificial light makes that seem unlikely so it has to be the way the Moon certainly has no effect on humans at all (its gravity). And it's not bad enough that it speculates the Moon's gravity could have an effect, it goes on to speculate that the nonexistent gravity effect is having an even more nonexistent magnetic effect (in a flourish of bad logic that I almost cannot repeat without laughing). At no point does it seem to reach the obvious corollary-- if the Moon's gravity mattered spit, it would also matter over the course of a single day, especially since it's a much faster change that would have greater "magnetic effects" (the article actually mentions that oceans contain salt water so can be electrically active, but doesn't seem to have ever been to a beach so it doesn't know there are two tides per day that would have far stronger magnetic effects by virtue of involving faster movements).

    The whole business is completely baloney, based on poor data analysis and horrendously inconsistent speculations. If the Moon were doing it by virtue of its gravitational effects on magnetic effects from currents in the ocean, why not on a daily cycle? Why not more for people who lived near the ocean, for crying out loud? What about latitude effects, don't the oceans respond completely differently in different places? And why would they need 13.7 day cycles to fit some of the patients? And why is the entire article built around a single anecdotal incident? It's garbage science.

    But here's the worst part-- even if the conclusions held any truth at all, they would still be irrelevant. The article focuses on the potential importance of the influence of sleep patterns on depression, and looks at how the Moon might affect sleep patterns. Is it possible they cannot see how incredibly silly that whole approach is? It would be like noticing that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, and looking for some anecdotal influence the Moon has on cigarette smoking. Imagine that article-- let's say there's some claimed evidence that people who smoke tend to smoke more on full Moons, and there is good evidence that smoking causes cancer. Is the story here that the Moon causes cancer? Of course not-- if you know that sleep influences depression, ignore the Moon, and look at what you can do about the patient's sleep habits. Isn't that obvious? I mean, maybe the full Moon shines right in their window at night, waking them up-- what would you do? Close the shades, don't cite thousands of years of uninformed superstition like that's the takeaway message here.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    420
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken G View Post
    The article reports that the research says: "some people’s mood swings appeared to follow a 14.8-day cycle, others a 13.7-day cycle."
    14 days is the typical payment cycle Ken G.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Posts
    26,713
    Quote Originally Posted by LaurieAG View Post
    14 days is the typical payment cycle Ken G.
    Good one. But all kidding aside, their claim is that the shifts come in synch with the full Moon, and that wouldn't be in synch with the pay cycle. It would be interesting to see if they get a clearer signal if they try phasing it to payday, one can certainly imagine that this could correlate to stress levels. But the personal anecdote they seem to put great stock in is about someone who is probably not paid that way anyway.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •