Blue Monday Bulls**t

Blue Monday: a depressing day of pseudoscience and humiliation

A psychologist explains why the third Monday of January has for him become the most depressing day of the year.

…there are many reasons why someone may feel particularly “down” during January. But every year, much of the media become fixated on a specific day – the third Monday in January – as the most depressing of the year. It has become known as Blue Monday.

This silly claim comes from a ludicrous equation that calculates “debt”, “motivation”, “weather”, “need to take action” and other arbitrary variables that are impossible to quantify and largely incompatible.

True clinical depression (as opposed to a post-Christmas slump) is a far more complex condition that is affected by many factors, chronic and temporary, internal and external. What is extremely unlikely (i.e. impossible) is that there is a reliable set of external factors that cause depression in an entire population at the same time every year.

Tip: Barbara Drescher on Facebook

This is a story of pseudoscience passed off as genuine science. The author says it “harms the public understanding of science and psychology. It’s also disrespectful to those who suffer from genuine depression,” and I agree. It’s also about the media doing a crappy job. Slow news day?

More: Feeling low? Don’t blame Blue Monday: Despite hype around the ‘most depressing day in the year’ there is no reason to believe people are more miserable in January

  2 comments for “Blue Monday Bulls**t

  1. January 16, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    - Tim Hartford from the excellent BBC “More or Less” prog which which pushes public understanding of maths & stats proper was on the ball..
    he tweeted :
    Thought for the day on @r4today began “Scientists have shown that today is the most depressing day of the year”….

    which translated means “I don’t know what a scientist is, or what science is, and I never check my facts before appearing on @r4today”

    BTW excellent edition this week
    : the figures behind UKs high speed rail, results of a global warming bet and executive pay http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0196v3z#synopsis

  2. Matt
    January 16, 2012 at 9:26 PM

    I have an alternative view. According to “Black Letter Day” by the Swedish band The Cardigans:

    “Once upon a time there was a scientist with a nose made of silver
    He found that there were 30 worthless days a year that one could do without
    He called them black letter days
    And the rest is silence…”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *