Full Moon: Fact or Fiction?

By Camaron Abundes  
NewsWest 9

ODESSA- Police officers, doctors, and emergency crews, just like the rest of the population more than likely have an opinion about the moon's effect on human behavior.

"When it's a little bit warmer and the moon is out. Definitely there are going to be more people out in the streets, for some reason it's just a combination of both," veteran Odessa Police Sergeant Eddie Vallejo says warm weather and a full moon factor into a busy night.

It's a loaded topic. If you search long enough you will find a study to match every belief.

Officer Pete Gonzales says just about any night can turn into a busy shift, but he's not sure the moon is always to blame.

"A lot of times your going from call to call, " Officer Gonzales said, "Usually, the weekends tend to be busier than the week days."

When NewsWest 9 asked about the full moon, Officer Gonzales smiled and shrugged.
"I don't really know. There are a lot of people who tend to think activity tends to pick up during a full moon and some people don't believe it," he said.

During a June 18th ride along with Officer Gonzales, he made three arrests.

Some Law enforcement agents NewsWest 9 spoke to during the research for this story said weather, holidays, and even paydays can increase crime rates.

"I do believe in it, because we do see it and as many years as I've been doing it, I have seen it," Sgt. Vallejo said, "The moon does play a role in people's aggression."

According, to an article on sixwise.com, a study printed in the Journal of Emergency Medicine in 1987 "found that 80 percent of emergency room nurses and 64 percent of physicians agree that the moon affects their patients' behavior."

"We would have these crazy nights and somebody would go whoa is this a full moon? We would go out and check and sure enough," said Dr. Judi Stondale who specializes in forensic psychiatry.

"I don't know statistically but certainly in my experience. It has been true," Dr. Stonedale said, who says lack of sleep drives mania or hyperactive behavior, and she says if someone is out and up later this may contribute to lunacy once associated with a full moon.

"It seemed like we would see more substance abuse," she said, "More people are out. More alcohol abuse, more crazy behavior, and it turns out you see them in the E.R."

Dr. Rahul Bhonghir, a third year resident in Odessa says coming from an Indian background he never imagined Americans would hold similar views about the moon.

"My perspective was that here a developed country like the United States, I thought people would turn away from that, but I see that there is a common thing that all people share for things we have no control on," Dr. Bhonghir said.

One study often cited by full moon believers was printed in the Journal for Clinical Psychiatry in May 1978. In the article, A.L. Lieber examined the relationship between the moon's phases and human aggression.

Another study, discussed in an article found on skepdic.com said a review of more than 100 studies conducted by Ivan Kelly, James Rotton and Roger Culver in 1996, "failed to show a reliable and significant correlation," between the moon's effect on behavior including, "homicide rates, traffic, accidents, crisis calls, and other violence."

NewsWest 9 looked at hospital admittance rates at Medical Center Hospital in June. The full moon was Wednesday, June 18th. Emergency room staff admitted 47 patients the first Wednesday in June. June 11th, they admitted 32 patients. June 18th, the hospital staff admitted 36 patients and the last Wednesday in June, June 25th, the hospital admitted 34 new patients.

The busiest night was by far June 4th, not a full moon.

A representative from the Ector County Detention Center gave NewsWest 9 data going back to 2004, the numbers did not reflect a trend, but the employee said despite the numbers, there just might be "something" to the full moon's effect on human behavior.