Why mathematicians will kill you or make you smell of piss.
Having contended with ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Panic Saturday’, not to mention ‘Bit-of-a-Kerfuffle Wednesday’ and ‘I-Thought-it-was-the-Weekend Thursday’, we are now presented with ‘Blue Monday’.
With the arrival of the dreaded Christmas shopping credit card bills and the sky a perpetual grey, Blue Monday, is statistically the most depressing day of the year. This year it is said to be Monday 26th Jan, although, some sources claimed it to be last Monday, the 19th. It is one of those unpredictable days like Easter, that leaps around the calendar from year to year, but fortunately, there is a formula and you can work it out. It falls on the fourth Monday of January. Or the third. Or the Monday of the last full week of January. Sources vary. And that is the beauty (or nightmare) of statistics, you can make of them what you want.
It has been said that approximately 79.2% of all statistics are inaccurate, misleading, or made up, but I could be wrong, because that is a figure I plucked out of the air. However, I am confident that if I select the right information I could easily make the argument stick.
Living by numbers.
Let’s just consider some figures for a moment.
- It can be said with some certainty that there is not a single teenager around today who saw Wham! in concert. Does this suggest some conspiracy theory that George Michael had them all exiled to Scotland along with Andrew Ridgeley? Of course not. It was Cornwall. Either that, or it is just mathematics and the passage of time.
- There is a line in the film ‘The Naked City’ that famously states “There are eight million stories in the naked city…” Some years after this film, Katie Melua reliably informed us that there are “9 million bicycles in Beijing.” Does this suggest that somewhere in Beijing there could be a million bicycles with no story attached to them? Maybe they were all shipped to London and became ‘Boris bikes’.
- Men with toothbrush moustaches rarely die of spontaneous internal combustion. You may look like Oliver Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, or that other bloke, but at least you will be safe in the knowledge that you are unlikely to explode.
- Why don’t you win the lottery? This one has two answers. There is the obvious one of the mathematical odds of the balls matching your ticket, but more important, the celebrity that presses the button always says “Good luck everyone.” Surely, if everyone receives the same good luck it averages out, and no one has any advantage of luck at all.
- Millions of pounds are invested annually to fight every fatal illness imaginable. Clearly, this is a noble thing to do, but statistically, all it does is rearrange the names on the list. They may eventually eradicate cancer and heart disease, but they will not stop people from dying. It just increases the chances of dying from something else. Scientific research is actually working to ensure we die from accidents or that we live until we are 124, in a home and smelling of piss.
So, be warned, statistics, mathematics and numbers are dangerous things. Just because a subject has a number associated with it doesn’t make it any more or less real.
If the national misery index is calculated by days on which people complain about the weather or of being skint, then you could pick any day of the year and nominate that as the most depressing day.
The most depressing day of the year will always be the day on which someone suffers from depression, and that can be any or every day of the year. Mental health is no respecter of dates, calendars, or celebrations, and much needs to be done to raise awareness to that fact. That is why Monday 26th Jan 2015 is Blue Monday Awareness Day. The most important thing to remember is that depression is an everyday occurrence for too many people and it is incredibly close to every one of us. If the person suffering with mental health issues is not you, then rest assured you will undoubtedly know someone who is, even if you don’t know it. Which is pretty much the point of the awareness day.
The Nothing Diaries – Putting the fun into fundraising.
That is why I have chosen to support Mind, mental health charity to raise funds and awareness. My ‘Sponsored Nothing’ is progressing well and while at times the going has been far from tough, I am still on target to complete the task on July 21st, which is the birthday of Robin Williams.
Please check out the fundraising page here where you can read more about the ‘Mork & Mind Sponsored Nothing’ and make a donation to a very important cause.
In exchange for your hard earned cash, I shall endeavour to do nothing. For a full explanation of what the challenge entails, and to read the other ‘Nothing Diaries’ please click here and see how the fundraising has been going so far.
Look out for the hashtag #bluemonday24 on Jan 26th, but don’t let it be just the one day of awareness. If you share this page socially, please remember to use the hashtag #bluemonday24.