Blue Monday What A load of Rubbish
You might have seen or heard mention that yesterday, 16 January 2012, is known as Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year.
You won't be that surprised to learn there is no scientific basis for this description.
The name was first popularised in 2005 as part of a publicity campaign devised by the now defunct satellite channel Sky Travel.
The campaign claimed that the third Monday in January was the most depressing day in the calendar year.
This assumption was supported by a press release containing a mathematical equation published under the name of Cliff Arnall, who at the time was a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, a further education centre affiliated with Cardiff University.
The "equation" ran as follows:
[W + (D-d) x Tq]
M x Na
where W = weather, d = Debt, T = time since Christmas, Q = time since failing our new year resolutions, M = low motivational levels and Na the feeling of a need to take action.
D was never defined in the press release, nor were any of the equation's units.
Shortly before "Blue Monday" in 2007, Dr Ben Goldacre wrote in the Guardian of how this equation was "scientifically uninformative, and driven by money."
According to Goldacre, the "Blue Monday" press release was substantially pre-written by PR agency Porter Novelli, which had then offered academics money to put their names to it.
Indeed, the Guardian later printed a statement from Cardiff University distancing themselves from Cliff Arnall: "Cardiff University has asked us to point out that Cliff Arnall... was a former part-time tutor at the university but left in February."
Goldacre concluded: "I am of the opinion that these equation stories - which appear with phenomenal frequency, and make up a significant proportion of the total science coverage in the UK - are corrosive, meaningless, empty, bogus nonsense that serve only to caricature and undermine science."
Despite Goldacre's efforts, the "Blue Monday" tag has persisted and has even been taken up by other organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation.
The phrase has also given rise to a website: beatbluemonday.org.
The website declares that Blue Monday is "the brainchild of Flexible Thinking Forum, a creativity consultancy which helps managers challenge their thinking to come up with new ideas and new ways of doing things."
The site references Cliff Arnall, but describes him as a "happiness and motivation expert" and "formerly a researcher, lecturer, and post graduate tutor at the Medical and Dental School of Cardiff University."
Such initiatives only partly hint at the less flippant side to the dubious concept of "Blue Monday".
Greengates Builders Merchants Accrington, Lancashire thinks this is all a load of rubbish.