Today is so-called 'Blue Monday,' allegedly the most miserable day of the year. Sure, it's cold and we're all poor from Christmas, but we don't need made-up reasons to be grumpy alongside the real ones.
In short, Blue Monday is BS. It first appeared in 2005 (seriously, we've been repeating this rubbish for that long?!) in a press release from a holiday company. As ever, when someone's trying to make you feel bad, you should be wondering what they stand to gain. In this case, it was holiday bookings. "Everything is terrible, maybe you'll feel better wedged into an economy seat on a plane to Kavos next to a stag party from Romford."
The 'finding' that the third Monday in January is somehow the worst was 'calculated' using factors like debt and weather. It's ascribed to a "Cardiff University psychologist" called Dr Cliff Arnall, but as exasperated Guardian neuroscience columnist Dean Burnett puts it:
"To be a Cardiff University psychologist you usually have to be employed/publish research from Cardiff School of Psychology, hence I can claim to be one. Dr Arnall briefly taught some psychology-related evening classes at the university's adult education centre. Apparently, this makes him a Cardiff University psychologist. Using that logic, I'm an Asda manager because I once made one of their staff fetch me a discount chicken."
Speaking to Gizmodo, Dr Burnett explained:
"The equation makes no sense at all. It combines factors and variables that can't be quantified in any mathematically useful way unless you mangle them so much as to be essentially useless. How do you combine debt level and motivation and weather in a formula that results in a specific date? It's like adding the colour red to 34mph, to 50GB and expecting to get a recipe for beans."
In short, Blue Monday has about as much scientific merit as Dr Nick Riviera. Or any of this. And don't just take our word for it - Arnall himself has admitted that it's a load of nonsense he put his name to for a cheque from a PR firm.
So yes, we feel grumpy on Blue Monday. But not because some made-up equation says our Sad Tokens are depleted, or whatever. It's because PR-backed pseudoscience still gets more headlines than it deserves - which, to use the homeopathic model, is basically none at all.