Beat Blue Monday

You can Beat Blue Monday in January...

New e book launched for BLUE Science campaign – to fight scientific illiteracy

A free e book to promote the campaign for ‘Blue Science’ is being formally launched on this year’s Bluest Monday celebrations – the symbolically most depressing day of the year on Monday January 24th.t

The e book and new campaign will work to tackle the problem of scientific illiteracy by defining the problem as getting ‘science understanding of the public’.

The campaign aims to encourage non-scientists to become better consumers of science, junk science and pseudo science to avoid their being commercially or politically exploited by encouraging scientists to become better communicators.

The initiative stands for Better Learning Understanding and Education of Science and unlike other initiatives seeking to achieve public understanding of science – this new campaign will work from outside of the scientific community.

It argues that some of the causes of misunderstanding of science are actually caused by the way scientists think, act and re-act. By coming at the issue as non-scientists it aims to tackle ‘bilateral scientific illiteracy’ – an ignorance created by the scientific and non-scientific worlds failing to understand each other.

Despite growth in technology and science a number of indicators are highlighting a growth in scientific illiteracy with people knowing less about science with trends, such as less media coverage on science making the situation worse.

With the need for greater understanding of issues such as global warming and climate change, expanded use of nuclear power, and concerns on the use of genetically modified there has never been a greater need for the public to have a basic understanding of the science around them.

Yet, we have a classic chicken and egg conundrum to this problem. Scientists have the knowledge, the understanding of scientific processes, which need to be explained to the wider world. They own the treasure but not solution to how you get other people to understand and engage with where necessary. The paradox is that the very skills that equip scientists to gain greater scientific knowledge provide barriers to connecting with the outside world.

There is a need for non-scientists to take more of a lead in building the bridges between the outside world and science. We cannot just rely on the scientific community to make this happen.

The Blue Science campaign us calling for:

  • More centres of learning to provide the equivalent of fast food of learning for adults on key scientific issues for non-scientists.
  • More pro-active efforts from the communications industry to tackle the issue of scientific illiteracy.
  • Scientists to recognise their discipline of rational, logical scientific thought can be a barrier in dealing in a world governed by perceptions, emotions, story telling and easily passed-on messages. By recognising this, rather than blame the communication failure on others, it makes a start to address the problem.
  • The need to for members of the scientific community to treat with respect and courtesy those who may have different views form theirs.
  • Focus efforts on responding to bad science on critical issues affecting humankind, lives, or commercial exploitation, rather than trivial scientific stories in the media – which readers probably do not believe anyway.

The campaign is looking to get established during the year ahead with a series of events, white papers, campaign web site, and projects culminating in a BLUE Science Day to play its part in tackling scientific illiteracy.

The first of the campaign white papers – ‘Why Science gets the reputation it deserves because of the way scientists think, act and re-act’ by Andy Green is available from www.andygreencreativity.com

The e book is free but I am encouraging people to make a donation to a mental health charity.

What do you think about the need for a Blue Science campaign?

Is ‘scientific illiteracy’ a serious problem?

Could addressing the problem from outside the scientific community at least help make a contribution to the fight against scientific illiteracy?

The truthiness about ‘Blue Monday’

In a political debate the American Senator Moynihan said: ‘You can have your own opinions, but you can’t have your own facts.’

We want to disagree with him. Not because we want to mislead, lie, or create some form of legitimacy for untruths.

We would love there to be absolute truths. In the same way we would love there to be a Father Christmas.

We would love there to be an absolute truth that can prove the existence of a ‘Blue Monday’.

Yet we would question if we do live in a world where there are absolute rights, and counter-balancing absolute wrongs. (Wow! Writing this I had a real freaky moment; the batteries in my computer mouse went suddenly dead with no indication of low juice!)

Now we are not extreme post-modernist-relativists who would explain away everything as relative and make no moral stance. (My own view is that all things are relative: but some things are more relative than others, and individually you need to draw a line somewhere on issues, but equally appreciative your stance is relative.)

Sometimes you can get insight from someone outside the field of study, a non-expert in the domain.

A major philosophical concept, well at least a label, was not created by a philosopher – but by a comedian. During an episode of the political satire show ‘The Colbert Report’ comedian Stephen Colbert coined the word ‘truthiness’. It means in essence: ‘the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.’

Our reality is that we all see the world through ‘truthiness glasses’. So, to counter Senator Moynihan, we do indeed have our own facts. Read the rest of this entry

The major truth underlying ‘Blue Monday’

There is no data to quantify the mood and state of people’s thinking on the particular day of ‘Blue Monday’. (Defined by the psychologist Cliff Arnall as usually being the third Monday of January.)

We do however have some ‘data’, some evidence, albeit of an informal kind: since 2005 the story of Blue Monday has grown and grown in terms of scale of media coverage and its ability to replicate with ease, with just the tiniest of promptings.

This, we would suggest, is offering some evidence, of an as yet, undefined mass phenomena, a zeitgeist – a mood of a time – perhaps indicating an under the surface root cause.

Cliff Arnall with his initial pinpointing of a possible date, and the later branding the date ‘Blue Monday’ by Andy Green were merely triggers for uncovering a latent phenomena.

Why is Christmas Day on December 25th? A common held theory is that the early Christians merely piggy-backed on an existing Pagan ritual of celebrating mid winter. Seemingly, our forefathers and foremothers perhaps wanted some cheering up in the middle of a bleak season in the northern hemisphere.

Linking the event of a Pagan celebration with another underlying issue created a bigger occasion. The underpinning rationale was presumably to cheer people up in response to an undefined, no data-collected zeitgeist of people feeling fed up, a feeling of discontentment in mid winter.

‘Blue Monday’ we would suggest, could merely be a further, perhaps a minor wave of discontentment, a month after the mid-winter celebrations (now labelled ‘Christmas’).

Perhaps abetted by modern phenomena, such as the monthly pay check, the monthly on-coming of the credit card bill, and a social more of creating New Year’s resolutions, it all helps create a further wave of discontentment.

Sure, there is no data to support this theory, but then again, we don’t see any statistical data about the mid winter blues timing with the Christmas period.

We would suggest the potency of the Blue Monday meme -its ability to generate widespread news since it was launched  is an intellectual touchstone for justifying Blue Monday, as it offers a clue to a possible underlying Zeitgeist.

 That is of course an hypothesis. Science teaches us that you  cannot prove an hypothesis through observation, merely disprove it.

No doubt there will be many out there wanting to disprove it. Shame really, as the intention behind the Blue Monday campaign is to promote personal well-being by saying you do not need to be depressed on this day, and also encourage others to help good causes.

Blue Monday – to mark launch of BLUE Science campaign – to fight scientific illiteracy by non-scientists

This year’s Blue Monday celebrations – the symbolically most depressing day of the year on Monday January 24th – is marking the launch of a new campaign, BLUE Science, to tackle the problem of scientific illiteracy by defining the problem as getting ‘science understanding of the public’.The campaign aims to encourage non-scientists to become better consumers of science, junk science and pseudo science to avoid their being commercially or politically exploited by encouraging scientists to become better communicators.

The initiative stands for Better Learning Understanding and Education of Science and unlike other initiatives seeking to achieve public understanding of science – this new campaign will work from outside of the scientific community.

It argues that some of the causes of misunderstanding of science are actually caused by the way scientists think, act and re-act. By coming at the issue as non-scientists it aims to tackle ‘bilateral scientific illiteracy’ – an ignorance created by a failure by either side of the debate to fully understand the worldview of the other.

Despite growth in technology and science a number of indicators are highlighting a growth in scientific illiteracy with people knowing less about science with trends, such as less media coverage on science making the situation worse.

“With the need for greater understanding of issues such as global warming and climate change, expanded use of nuclear power, and concerns on the use of genetically modified there has never been a greater need for the public to have a basic understanding of the science around them.” said Andy Green, a campaigner for Blue Science.

“Yet, we have a classic chicken and egg conundrum to this problem. Scientists have the knowledge, the understanding of scientific processes, which need to be explained to the wider world. They own the treasure but not solution to how you get other people to understand and engage with where necessary. The paradox is that the very skills that equip scientists to gain greater scientific knowledge provide barriers to connecting with the outside world.”

“There is a need for non-scientists to take more of a lead in building the bridges between the outside world and science. We cannot just rely on the scientific community to make this happen.”

 Blue Science campaigners are calling for:

  • More centres of learning to provide the equivalent of fast food for adults on key scientific issues for non-scientists.
  • More pro-active efforts from the communications industry to tackle the issue of scientific illiteracy.
  • Scientists to recognise their discipline of rational, logical scientific thought can be a barrier in dealing in a world governed by perceptions, emotions, story telling and easily passed-on messages. By recognising this, rather than blame the communication failure on others, it makes a start to address the problem.
  • The need to for members of the scientific community to treat with respect and courtesy those who may have different views form theirs.
  • Focus efforts on responding to bad science on critical issues affecting humankind, lives, or commercial exploitation, rather than trivial scientific stories in the media – which readers probably do not believe anyway.

The campaign is looking to get established during the year ahead with a series of events, white papers, campaign web site, and projects culminating in a BLUE Science Day to play its part in tackling scientific illiteracy.

The first of the campaign white papers by Andy Green is available from www.andygreencreativity.com

 Anyone interested in developing the work of BLUE Science should contact the campaign at www.andygreencreativity.com

2011 is so bad – we have two Blue Mondays!

Campaigners are urging people to prepare for the most depressing day of the year with forthcoming date on Monday January 24th destined to be the bluest Monday yet.
The beat Blue Monday campaign is encouraging people to be positive about enjoying Blue Monday and help support mental health charities both today, January 17th and the 24th – the Bluest Monday.
The precise date for Blue Monday has been guided by a formula devised by psychologist Cliff Arnall.
The date is typically either the third Monday in January the 17th – or the last Monday where there is a full week after in January – in 2011 falling on Monday the 24th.
The timing is determined by factors such as the January pay check not arriving, length of time since resolutions made, and the winter weather.
This year many people have celebrated Blue Monday on the 17th – but the factors creating a sense of depression will still be evident – if not more so for the 24th, which has the ingredients, particularly with personal bank balances likely to be even lower, of making next week the 24th, the Bluest Monday.
2011 you could say is so bad that it is has two ‘Blue Mondays’!  Whether it is today, January 17th or Monday January 24th, Blue Monday is the product of a number of factors acutely pressing at this time of the year – and we want to transform how people respond to this time of year by making themselves more positive and also to think of others.