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. N_{a} is obviously meant to stand for “need action”, but variables represented like this would normally be part of a series, e.g. N_{a}, N_{b}, N_{c}, 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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