Full Moon Driving Myths
Have you ever noticed people driving recklessly and erratically on the roads and blamed it on a full moon? You’re not the only person who thinks this. In fact, it’s a widely believed myth and urban legend, and the full moon has been used to justify not only weird driving, but also crimes, suicide, and whole hosts of weird behavior.
But is there any truth to it?
First, let’s look at where this belief comes from. It dates back to ancient times, when Greek philosophers like Aristotle believed that the moon affected the water in the human brain. The thought process here actually makes a fair amount of sense. If the moon can affect water (ex: tides) and the human body is around 80% water, then shouldn’t the moon affect the human body? Back then, it was probably a pretty convincing solution.
Since then, the moon has played an important role in myths and folklore. It has become associated with werewolves, vampires, and other mythical creatures. The word lunacy even comes from “luna,” the Roman moon goddess. Science may have disproved the early philosophers about many things, but the rumors about the power of the moon have stayed strong throughout time.
However, it has since been proven that the full moon cannot affect the water in the human brain.
While its gravitational pull can affect open bodies of water, it does not have an impact on enclosed bodies of the water. Therefore, it cannot have an impact on the brain. Similarly, the gravitational pull of the moon is just as strong during the new moon. So, even if it did impact people, it would also be felt during the new moon, and not just the full moon.
Further, there is no concrete proof that the moon leads to erratic, dangerous, or violent behavior, including strange driving. While a study by the University of Washington found that animal bites and poisonings (both accidental and self-inflicted) actually do tend to increase during the full moon, most things don’t. The study looked at the correlation between the full moon and things like suicide, crisis center calls, aggression, violent crimes, and traffic accidents, and found that no relationship existed.
For people who believe in the negative effects of the moon, though, these statistics might not be enough to convince them otherwise. For people who believe that bad things happen during the full moon, they are going to perceive negative events, no matter what.
This is called an “illusory correlation.”
Essentially, those who believe in something are more likely to be aware of it, and will accept anything that reinforces their preexisting belief. A police officer, for example, who believes that the full moon causes more violence is going to be more aware of any violence that occurs that day, as they are, although subconsciously, on the lookout for events that will reinforce their belief. If you know it’s a full moon, and then notice strange driving behavior, you are likely to blame it on the full moon. If you experience strange driving at any other time of the month, however, you’re not likely to think anything of it.
So next time there is a full moon, keep an eye out for erratic drivers. But remember that distracted or aggressive drivers are on the roads at all times.
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