Sunday, January 17, 2016
The "Blue Monday" phenomenon - not just stupid anymore, this is getting destructive
It is not really any secret any more than "blue monday" is a fake. This was an idea that was apparently developed as a component of a marketing scheme for a travel company (the story can be found on Wikipedia, here). It comes with a ridiculous formula that adds, subtracts, multiplies, divides (it even has exponents!) various things that intuition suggests might make the first few weeks of the new year unpleasant. It might be funny except that in spite of all reason it continues to be mistaken for legitimate science - most recently our own CBC has decided to conflate this idea with the the concept of seasonal affective disorder, look at this story. This one is not as bad as some media outlets, who seem to be completely sucked in, see here for example. Apparently, there is even a saint that you can pray to for assistance. This might all be humorous (for a fun discussion, check here), except that there are number of downsides. Pseudoscience has the potential to discredit actual science and the "Blue Monday" concept has the potential to stigmatize and trivialize actual depression, as recently pointed out in a blog by George Woolfrey. As Tom Chivers says, here, "can't we all just drop it now?" Sensible as that suggestion may be, I doubt it.