The moon doesn’t make us have more babies – UCLA professor

31 Mar 2015

Blaming the moon for emotional and bodily issues are not just an easy answer but also scientifically wrong and for one professor from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), he’s had enough.

For centuries, the moon has been given as an explanation for varying mental and emotional states, hence the word ‘lunatic’, but for planetary astronomer and professor Jean-Luc Margot it is time that science steps in and dispels these myths.

From his piece entitled, There was a full moon and nothing happened … again, he explains how prevalent the beliefs that the moon influences people’s decisions, particularly when it comes down to expectant mothers and a common belief that the delivery of the child varies depending on the current cycle of the moon, or even when is best to admit themselves to hospital based off these cycles.

Prof Margot felt pushed to examine this common belief citing a 2004 study which claimed that lunar activities do indeed influence births, which he says was wrong on “almost everything, regrettably.”

Much of the work, he says, was written with a considerable amount of confirmation bias the meant its authors ignored other environmental factors that could have influenced an increase or decrease in births, while exaggerating results that would confirm their original beliefs.

Resistance from nursing journals

Perhaps most interestingly, his rebuttal of the nearly decade-old paper was met with considerable resistance from nursing journals who have in many cases refused to publish his rebuttal of the paper.

“Several nursing journals did not want to touch this subject with a 10-foot pole – not because reviewers thought that the scholarship was lacking, but because journal editors did not even want to seek the appraisal of reviewers,” said Margot in his article.

Speaking to the university’s media team, Margot said this is not just an effort to highlight one example of the prevalence of bad science, but a starting discussion that he hopes will expand to other bogus scientific beliefs, “Vaccines are widely and correctly regarded as one of the greatest public health achievements, yet vaccine-preventable diseases are killing people because of beliefs that are out of step with scientific facts … Perhaps we can start by correcting our delusions about the moon, and work from there.”

Man shouting at the moon image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic