Well, there’s always hope, I suppose

In ref to the last post (crappy pretend science will be outed as such by an informed audience): I forgot that today is ‘Blue Monday’, the stupidest day of the year.  The formula for stupidity being C+R/aP=S (where C=Credulousness, R=Rabid desire for cash generating publicity, and aP=the Arbitrary Pixie constant).  Thanks Daily Mail for reminding me!

Just a Theory explain why Cliff Arnall’s formula is rubbish:

The official “Beat Blue Monday” website offers the following formula for calculating the worst day of the year:

The model was broken down using six immediately identifiable factors; weather (W), debt (d), time since Christmas (T), time since failing our new year’s resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M) and the feeling of a need to take action (Na).

These “immediately identifiable factors” are of course nothing of the sort; notice as well that the variable D is undefined. My usual complaints apply: variables that make no sense (how to you turn “weather” in to a number?) and broken equations (if your motivational level is zero, then the result is infinite), but there is also some nasty abuse of notation here. Na is obviously meant to stand for “need action”, but variables represented like this would normally be part of a series, e.g. Na, Nb, Nc, etc. I guess using the notation in this way makes it look more “scientific”.

Another fault is that although the formula supposedly results in a universal “worst day”, the variables seem to be very individual. Surely “time since failing our new year’s resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M) and the feeling of a need to take action (Na)” all change from person to person? I was going to try and work back from the result to determine just what they are inputting for the equation, but it’s such a mess it isn’t even worth bothering. Today isn’t Blue Monday at all – I’ve just had a rather good laugh.

Mind Hacks have been running a competition to find formulae for all sorts of everything.  My favourite is one from Tom Michael:

Unhappiness = [(D+CC+M+G)/(P+T)]^B

D = Hours of Darkness in the day
CC = Credit Card debt in £1000’s
M = Mince Pies Consumed over Christmas
G = Hours Spent with Grandma

P = Value of Presents Recieved in £100’s
T = Hours spent watching Sinbad movies

B = Badger quotient*

For help calculating the badger quotient, please send a cheque for £500 to Mr Arnall at Pseudoscience Enterprises.


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