Just A Statistic

by kelly


OK, I admit it. I’m a sucker for pop-astrology, and more than willing to believe that much of the behavior of anyone I know is driven primarily by his or her particular sun-sign. That little bit of (arguable) irrationality aside, I like to think of myself as an independent spirit, and certainly not as a predictable type, or as one governed by mean trends.

But all that’s been blown to “H-E-double toothpicks,” as we say in Wisconsin, after yesterday.

Yesterday was January 24, 2006. And do you know what they say about January 24ths, in general? I didn’t, until last night, when I caught a report of a study (click here) that claims that on January 24ths, people are the most depressed than on any other day of the year.

And how did the scientist conducting the study figure this out? By using a very precise formula, of course. Here’s a quote:

Dr. Cliff Arnall’s calculations show that misery peaks on Monday. Arnall, who specializes in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff, Wales, created a formula that takes into account numerous feelings to devise peoples’ lowest point.

The model is: [W + (D-d)] x TQ/M x NA

The equation is broken down into seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.

Hmmmmmm. So – ya’ got that everyone? It’s a simple matter of computing the Weather plus the sum of Debt minus monthly pay multiplied by the product of time since Christmas [does this work if you’re Jewish?] and time since failed attempt to quit [does it matter what?], divided by the product of low motivational levels and the need to take action.

Of Course! And here I thought everyone at work was acting sluggish just because we’ve hardly had any sunlight and everyone has S.A.D.

But, OK, now I see – mood can instead be predicted, apparently, by a nuanced calculation of the above-listed factors that causes, as the scientist puts it, ‘reality’ to kick in:

while days technically get longer after Dec. 21, cyclonic weather systems take hold in January, bringing low, dark clouds . . . . Meanwhile, the majority of people break their healthy resolutions six to seven days into the new year, and even the hangers-on have fallen off the wagon, torn off the nicotine patches and eaten the fridge empty by the third week. Any residual dregs of holiday cheer and family fun have kicked the bucket by Jan. 24.‚ÄúFollowing the initial thrill of New Year’s celebrations and changing over a new leaf, reality starts to sink in,‚Äù Arnall said. ‚ÄúThe realization coincides with the dark clouds rolling in and the obligation to pay off Christmas credit card bills.

That’s all well and good. But look at what the article goes on to say next:

The formula was devised to help a travel company “analyze when people book holidays and holiday trends,” said Alex Kennedy, spokesperson for Porter Novelli, a London-based PR agency. It seems that people are most likely to buy a ticket to paradise when they feel like hell. (Emphasis mine).

Well, I’ll be damned.


Do you know what I did yesterday – before I heard about this study, mind you – I bought two tickets to paradise. Or, to be more precise, to a week-long vacation on an Alaskan cruise for later this year. It’s something we’ve been wanting to do for over a year, and I just finally booked it yesterday. It’s not that we should really be spending money this way now, suddenly, as opposed to any earlier time. It’s just that I really want to go. And that I really wanted to book it yesterday.

So I give up. My actions are all predictable and governed by the laws of a universe of barely tangible equations. I’m a lemming, an unknowing conformist, a plaything of the gods. I might as well just give up on the concept of free will, and – what the heck – on moral responsibility while I’m at it.

But at least I’m going to enjoy me some glaciers. There’s nothing you can do to stop that, Dr. Arnell. And I’m going to sign up for the whale watching trip that “guarantees” some whale sightings, too.

So there!

4 Responses to “Just A Statistic”

  1. Editor B Says:

    Wow! That’s freaky.

    And — no joke — on the 24th I found myself anaccountably searching the web for job opportunities and blogs and any info whatsoever about Hawaii.

  2. nicolek Says:

    ooh, are you going to stop in Vancouver- that’s where we got Paul’s baby shower gift- on the off chance that he liked it.

    There’s a ton of shops that sell this- but I don’t recall if any are near the docks. Tons of things to do there though- if you go!

  3. Kelly Says:

    Yes, we’ll leave fly home out of Vancouver. Looking forward to being there, but I bet we won’t get to see too much of the city. We’ll see. Did you two take a cruise, or did you just spend some time in V?

  4. nicolek Says:

    My brother got married in Victoria (its on an island off of Vancouver. We flew to Seattle, drove to Vancouver, stayed there for a few days, and then took the boat ferry to Victoria for the wedding.