Dr Petra has a nice post about the bogus science that surrounds the claim that today is “Blue Monday”. It’s a nice little media story of the type I like to write but since she’s done such a good job, I thought I’d just point you towards her blog. Her blog is worth following too. She’s a great combination of excellent science communicator, evidence-based agony aunt and sexologist.
Tomorrow (18 January 2010) is the third Monday of the month, a day that’s become known as ‘Blue Monday’. Launched in 2004 by Sky Travel and PR company Porter Novelli, the day was to be promoted using a formula to prove the day was more depressing than any other (and encourage people to book a holiday). A number of psychologists were approached to front the formula (including myself). Perhaps unsurprisingly most refused. One, Cliff Arnall, accepted and since then has been promoting the Blue Monday campaign. Over the years it has morphed from an event to sell holidays and been appropriated by other commercial companies (such as Travelodge) and charities like the Samaritans, Depression Alliance and the Mental Health Foundation. Journalists all over the world have bookmarked the date so every year we see the story repeated without question. But there’s a backplot to this story. Numerous bloggers including Ben Goldacre, Vaughan at Mind Hacks, Steve of Irregular Shed and myself have all questioned the accuracy of the formula, the appropriateness of using a flawed formula by mental health campaigns, and the qualifications of Mr Arnall who fronted the formula.