Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Just look what the moon provokes

At the beginning of the year, I emailed Dr Arnold Lieber, the American psychologist who devoted much of his academic life to studying the lunar effect and "biological tides" theory - the idea that life on Earth is affected by our lunar cousin. Is it? Are we? Dr Lieber can't say one way or the other. In fact, his research proved it one way. And then the other. The man, I'm guessing, was gutted (I'm guessing he was gutted; I'm not doubting his gender). Though his email to me hid his disappointment well.

It went something like.

Yes, I'm still interested in lunar study. You should probably read the sequel to The Lunar Effect as the results of follow-up research weren't quite so conclusive. I'm now retired.

So with Dr Lieber still floating around my mind, and his book still taking pride of place on my desk, I almost whooped with joy this morning when I saw my old Californian friend (does an email constitute friendship?) name-checked in Rick Stroud's The Book of the Moon. But Rick isn't so kind to the doc.

"His theories are contentious, and Lieber has legions of detractors as well as supporters. His work is held by some to be at best bad science and at worst crackpot," he writes.

Legions of detractors like you, Rick? "Yes" is the answer, as I discovered when I attended the launch of Rick's lunography (lunar-biography - you won't find that in the dictionary). Rick stood before us and chuckled at any notion of a lunar effect. After all, the moon is over 200,000 miles away from us. It can't influence us.

I'm not so sure. And I've thrown myself into the lion's den this year to try and find out...

In Wales, in June, I watched two steaming (drunk and angry) Welsh pensioners almost come to blows over a spilt pint. It was full moon. In May, two wild ponies squared up and walloped each other (I think one was having an affair with the other's wife). It was full moon. In November, a Yorkshire Terrier went absolutely bonkers on a beach in Cornwall. Full moon. In March, two gunmen murdered 25 people in America and Germany. Guess what the moon was up to.

Now I don't blame the moon. It's a rock. And from what I've learned this year, rocks are rubbish at defending themselves. And neither do I claim to have found a correlation between moon phase and behaviour of life on Earth. But it's a bit weird. Isn't it?

And then there are the coincidences. The many people I've bumped into across the country during moonwalks. And the strange emails. The odd photos. The friends of friends who've always moonwalked and always wanted to find someone with the same interest. The right-place-right-time occurrences. All very weird.

Cosmobiology is a big subject (and a really difficult word to say after a beer). It states, amongst other hard-to-say things, that because the moon drags the tides (fact) and humans are made up of 80% water (fact), the moon must surely also drag our innards, affect our organs, stretch our glands, and make us act a bit strangely. (Well, I did kill that man. No, of course I didn't. Surely it wasn't a man?)


Rick Stroud says No, fools, our bodies are closed, bounded water systems; the sea is open, unbounded, completely different. Yes, says the Dr Lieber of 20 years ago. Maybe, says today's Dr Lieber.

We'll never know, says Moon Man.

If you'd like to read why I think we'll never know, I hope to reveal all soon...

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