Blue Monday (date)

Blue Monday is a name given to a date in January stated, as part of a publicity campaign by Sky Travel, to be the most depressing day of the year. However, the whole concept is considered pseudoscience,[1] with its formula derided by scientists as nonsense.

History

This date was published in a press release under the name of Cliff Arnall, at the time a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, a Further Education centre attached to Cardiff University. Guardian columnist Dr. Ben Goldacre reported that the press release was delivered substantially pre-written to a number of academics by public relations agency Porter Novelli, who offered them money to put their names to it.[2] The Guardian later printed a statement from Cardiff University distancing themselves from 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."[3]

Date

This date allegedly falls on the Monday of the last full week of January. The date was declared by Arnall to be 24 January in 2005,[4] 23 January in 2006,[5] 22 January in 2007,[6] 21 January in 2008,[7] 19 January in 2009[8] and 18 January in 2010. In 2011 there was confusion about the correct date; some claimed it to be 17 January 2011[9] while others stated Blue Monday was on 24 January 2011.[10][11][12] In 2012, the most depressing day of the year was said to be 23 January.[1][13][14] In 2013, Blue Monday was reported to be on 21 January, [15] and 20 January in 2014.[16] [11]

Calculation

According to a press release by a mental health charity,[8] the formula is:

$\frac{[W + D-d] T^Q}{M N_a}$

where weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. 'D' is not defined in the release, nor are units.

Arnall says the date was calculated by using many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. Writing about the calculation, Ben Goldacre stated: "... the fact is that Cliff Arnall's equations ... fail even to make mathematical sense on their own terms."[2] Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist who has worked in the psychology department of Cardiff University, has described the formula as "farcical", with "nonsensical measurements".[17]

Happiest day

Mr Arnall also says, in a press release commissioned by Wall's,[18] that he has calculated the happiest day of the year—in 2005, 24 June,[19] in 2006, 23 June,[20] in 2008, 20 June[21] in 2009, 19 June, [22] and in 2010, 18 June.[23] So far, this date has fallen close to Midsummer in the Northern Hemisphere (June 21 to 24).

References

1. ^ a b Dean Burnett (16 January 2012). "Blue Monday: a depressing day of pseudoscience and humiliation". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 January 2014.
2. ^ a b Goldacre, Ben (16 December 2006). "MS = media slut, but CW = corporate whore". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 21 January 2008.
3. ^ Goldacre, Ben (18 November 2006). "How GxPxIxC = selling out to your corporate sponsor". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 January 2014.
4. ^ "Jan. 24 called worst day of the year". MSNBC. 24 January 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
5. ^ "Jan. 23 most depressing day of the year: report". CTV. 24 January 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
6. ^ "Blue Monday: The unhappiest day of the year". Daily Mail (London). 22 January 2007. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
7. ^ Booth, Frances (21 January 2008). "Smile! You're not the only one in a bad mood". Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 21 January 2008.
8. ^ a b "Campaign aims to help ease January blues British public urged to ‘Beat Blue Monday’". www.mentalhealth.org.uk. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 13 January 2009.
9. ^ "'Blue Monday': Today the most depressing day of the year". www.joe.ie. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2011.
10. ^ "2011 is so bad – we have two Blue Mondays!". beatbluemonday.org.uk. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
11. ^ a b "Blue Monday". Canterbury College. 17 January 2011. Retrieved 18 January 2011.
12. ^ Baker, Trevor (24 January 2011). "Today is the real Blue Monday". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 24 January 2011.
13. ^ "Is Blue Monday the most depressing day of the year... or was it all a marketing scam to make us book vacations?". Daily Mail (London). 16 January 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
14. ^ "Blue Monday is most depressing day of the year, research claims". Daily Telegraph (London). 16 January 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012.
15. ^ "Feeling Down?". The Daily Mail (London). 20 January 2013. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
16. ^ "Blue Monday: The unhappiest day of the yearRead more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-430389/Blue-Monday-The-unhappiest-day-year". Daily Mail (London). 6 January 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
17. ^ Burnett, Dean (21 January 2013). "Blue Monday: a depressing day of nonsense science (again)". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 20 January 2014.
18. ^ "It's the happiest day of the year, formula shows". CTV.ca. 23 June 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2007.
19. ^ "Cheer up for year's happiest day". BBC. 24 June 2005. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
20. ^ "Smile, it's the happiest day of the year". China Daily. 23 June 2006. Retrieved 13 March 2007.
21. ^ Smith, Rebecca (20 June 2008). "Today is the happiest day of the year according to Cliff Arnall's maths formula". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 20 June 2008.
22. ^ "Here comes the sum... Algebra 'proves' how holiday hopes, heat and high spirits make today the year's happiest". Daily Mail (London). 19 June 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2009.
23. ^ Grant, Alistair (18 June 2010). "Happiness is, today, claims maths equation". Irish Examiner (Cork). Retrieved 18 June 2010.