It’s that time of year again – when the media are encouraged by public relations pseudo science stories to recycle that old chestnut, “the most depressing day of the year”
Apparently 22 January is “Blue Monday” according to pseudo-psychologist, Dr Cliff Arnalls, whose formula “considers debt, time elapsed since Christmas, failing New Year’s resolutions & low motivation at work” Last year, the “doctor” claimed to be from Cardiff University, but my research reveals he was a part-time tutor in the Lifelong Learning Centre which co-ordinates adult education in Wales – a post he no longer holds. So why does he have any credibility with either public relations practitioners or the media?
Equally questionable is the use of research published as “hard news” by PR practitioners. For example, that from “safe driving specialists” Privilege Insurance, (which also cites Arnall’s dubious formula as a media hook).
Apparently “48 per cent of drivers in Britain experience symptoms, including lethargy and sadness or depression, they blame on the time of year. Of these, one in ten admits their driving suffers as a result, with speeding and losing concentration the most common side effect.”
That actually means that more than half of those polled (which I won’t extrapolate to generalise to all drivers in Britain) do not experience such symptoms – and the driving ability of 95% of respondents is not affected.
And, if you can survive Monday without being too depressed, watch out for Professor Cary Cooper CBE (who holds lots of honorary psychology degrees and visiting professorships). He’ll soon be pushing “duvet day” (the first Monday in February, last year sponsored by Sky Travel) – following on from his “shocking” research for Microsoft this month that revealed employees waste time at work.
My own degree was a BSc in Psychology – and I have a lot of respect for the profession – but these ridiculous surveys and pseudo-scientific balderdash don’t do any favours for psychologists, public relations practitioners or the media.
UPDATE: I’ve just noticed that Green Communications is promoting Blue Monday with the Samaritans . I have a lot of respect for Andy Green’s creativity as well as the job this charity does – but I’m still sorry to see questionable science used to interest the media.