Every day for several months I filled out the Domestic Harmony Inventory (DHI), a scientifically valid instrument—questionnaires are only scientifically valid if they are called “instruments.” This consisted of asking myself how many times I was corrected for misbehavior each twenty-four period. This produced a number, and numbers are susceptible to mathematical manipulation, which is always desirable.
I concurrently used the Konica Minolta LS-100 Luminance Meter to measure moonglow in so many lumens per square yard. Lumens have previously been shown by fMRI to be important in predicting many psychological phenomenon (see reference list). I entered the lumens and number of corrections into a spreadsheet and then subjected to them to a computer model, which told me that the correlation between the two was statistically significant (p < 0.001).
Future research is needed to determine whether this same correlation is identical between races or whether there are disparities, which there probably are.
The Nobel committee may contact me using this web form.
Similar work was conducted by the team led by Geoffrey Martin. They published the peer-reviewed article “Lightning and its association with the frequency of headache in migraineurs: An observational cohort study” in the journal Cephalagia.
News organizations, always alert for clever sounding press releases, heard of the study and secured this quote from Martin: “this study very clearly shows a correlation between lightning, associated meteorological factors and headaches.” There you go.
Migraine sufferers from Ohio (23) and Missouri (67) recorded headache days on which they had headaches, over a period of “three to six months.” The folks from Ohio were all women. Pains where taken to insure they had “regular menstrual periods every 25–35 days” (there’s that phase of the moon again). Only the participants zip codes were known “in order to avoid disclosure of protected health information.” Why this privacy concern? Strikes me that if you can get a woman to disclose when she’s having her period, she won’t be so protective over her address
Lightning data consisted of “location, current, and polarity” and whether the strikes were cloud-to-ground. Lightning strikes had to be withing twenty-five scientifically determined miles of the zip codes to count, because this “was an
area that an individual patient would most likely reside in throughout a day.” At least there is acknowledgement the patient might not be anywhere near her zip code
For fun, they also measured “dry bulb temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, barometric pressure, and precipitation” and solar insolation. And since they were really into it, they calculated CAPE (convective available potential energy) and the Lifting Index (which is CAPE-like). Reading this paper I had pleasant flashbacks of sketching atmospheric profiles on pseudo-adiabatic charts.
Then came the computer modeling. They used “GEE”, which stands for generalized estimating equation, and which is a technique for frequentists to act like Bayesians without having to admit it. GEEs, though wonderfully complicated, weren’t enough, so they also had a go with principal component analysis, a method which allows scientists to expand the number of their conclusions.
Wee p-values showed that lightning strikes were correlated with headache days. More fascinating was the discovery “The probability of having a headache on lightning days was also further increased when the average current of lightning strikes for the day was more negative.” Oh, all those other meteorological variables turned out duds. At least they tried.
Understand, it wasn’t the frequency of lightning strikes that was correlated to headaches, but only whether a day had any lightning strikes. It only took one: more than one had no additional effect. Paradoxical results like this are what tell you that you are in the presence of science.
How does lightning zaps skulls? Nobody knows. Might be “electromagnetic waves” (“low-level magnetic fields are able to induce changes on electroencephalograms”; possibly even on fMRIs). Could be ozone or “ions”. Or even—the mind reels—“induction of fungal spores.” I read this paper carefully and have determined the word “induction” was not meant as a cute pun.
I can’t speak for these sufferers, of course, but lightning has always cheered me up. I love a good storm. Far from causing headaches, brilliant flashes and loud booms cause pleasure in me. But then I don’t have regular periods.
Thanks to Al and Ann Perrella for the pointer.