Blue Monday: How Bad Science Becomes Common Knowledge


Image credit Cute overload

A lot of media outside of the States called last Monday as Blue Monday, purported to be the most depressing day of the year. (In the northern hemisphere, anyways). In fact, according to the Guardian and the official website, it is today; hence the cute kittens, to cheer you up. In fact, as we noted last year, it was the invention PR firm working for a travel firm, and is now being used to promote mental health.

It was supposed to be based on a formula taking temperature, hours of daylight, days since payday and number of days until the next holiday. Ben Goldacre called it a fraud five years ago, and does it again in the Guardian, and is quite explicit in his condemnation of it. But he also notes that it is a cautionary tale about how bad science can evolve into common knowledge:

Antidepressant prescriptions peak in spring, or in February, May and October. GP consultations for depression peak in May-June, and November-January). Admissions for depression peak in autumn, or spring and summer, while eight studies found no variation.

So Blue Monday does not put a catchy name on a simple human truth. It only really shows us how easy it is to take an idea that people think they already know, and then sell it back to them. Even if it's false....

Bullshit is a slippery slope. All I suggest is that you should think a bit before you step on to the crest.

More in the Guardian
More on Blue Monday
Another Good Reason For A Holiday Today: It's Blue Monday

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Tags: United Kingdom

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