by M. Grant Winston, Science Editor

You may have heard or read that "scientists" have calculated that the worst day of the year would be Monday January 24, 2005. This assertion comes from a British psychologist; Dr. Cliff Arnalls of Cardiff University. He says he has developed a mathematical formula, [W+(D-d)] x TQM x NA, which translates as weather (W), debt (D) (minus the amount of money to be paid on your next pay day) and the time (T) since Christmas. Then there is the period since the failure to quit (Q) a bad habit along with general motivational (M) levels and the need to take action (NA) to plan something to look forward to.

I suspect that he developed this formula purely for amusement but if he his serious, this is not mathematics. It is the pseudo-scientific cousin of math, numerology. For anyone who has never heard of it, numerology looks for meaningful patterns in numbers just as astrology looks for meaningful patterns in the stars. It is superstitions rubbish. Many numerologists are obsessed with finding 666 in anything and everything, never realizing that any number can be multiplied, divided, subtracted and added until it equals that sum.

I find it upsetting that so many in the mainstream media know so little about science, that pseudo-science is covered as if it were the real thing. Even worse, the public knows so little that they do not take the press to task for presenting nonsense as wisdom. For example, why do allegedly serious newspapers have astrology columns? The 1976 film, Network predicted that TV news would become nothing but entertainment, and that there would be a psychic on the evening news. The last part has not come to pass yet, but would not surprise me. If you rely on TV and radio as your only sources of information, then most of what you think you know is wrong.

At the risk of rambling on forever, I will come to my point. The assertion that January 24 will be a terrible day is baseless. I am sure that millions of us will look back, and realize that it was a good day. Maybe we were even happy. Numerology is bunk. Don't waste a moment worrying about its predictions.