Full moon theory dispelled by Charles Sturt University

A moon halo captured on Sunday night at Yarrahapinni by @photographybytaragowen
A moon halo captured on Sunday night at Yarrahapinni by @photographybytaragowen

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THERE is a common belief among those who work in healthcare or emergency sectors that a full moon can create a hectic night for employees. 

Local paramedic Scott Duffy said in his experience there definitely seems to be an increase in abnormal behaviour. 

“Speak to anyone in health including nurses or doctors and they would say the same thing,” he said. 

Mr Duffy does not know why there appears to be an increase in unusual behaviour during a full moon, but the paramedics seem to attend more incidents involving psychotic patients. 

“After 19 years of being a paramedic whenever I come on night shift everyone breathes a big sigh as we know it’s going to be a busier night,” he said. 

Mid North Coast Local Area Commander, Superintendent Paul Fehon said he believed due to the increased light that comes with having a full moon, there tends to be more activity at night. 

However research conducted by Charles Sturt University (CSU) has dispelled the myth. 

For his doctoral research through CSU's Australian Graduate School of Policing and Security, Dr Geoffrey Sheldon examined eight years of data from the Queensland Police Service.

Dr Sheldon has been a police officer for more than 30 years and is a Detective Inspector within the South Brisbane District of the Queensland Police Service.

"Most police the world over firmly believe in a lunar influence upon behaviour and accordingly their workload," Dr Sheldon said.

Dr Sheldon examined more than 900,000 jobs attended by Queensland Police from 2004 to 2011, covering 99 full moon events.

"I looked at both the number of jobs and types of jobs that had appeared in previous literature, or were generally indicative of disturbed behaviour," Dr Sheldon said.

Contrary to world-wide policing folklore Dr Sheldon found there was no increase in calls for service at the full moon.

"Finding that there was no increase in calls for service was somewhat confronting for me, as I had been a believer, like most other police officers for my whole career," he said.

"My study demonstrates the art of organisational discourse and how the more experienced police tell stories of such events which affirms the 'lunar hypothesis' to following generations of officers. 

"The fact we remember such things on such occasions, and not others, is what is called illusory correlation, hanging on to a belief when it affirms something we suspected was true.”


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