A new shocking discovery that is affecting you right now

The Good Life Letter 

5th February 2016

  • Leading health expert makes shock discovery
  • A major problem which has implications for most of us
  • Here’s why you should read between the lines – the right to be SAD
Based upon some extensive research I have serious news to break.

There is a major health condition which is afflicting virtually every Good Life Letter reader – and it has been since birth.

Scarily this physical manifestation has been known about by every GP in the land, has no known cure and attracts not one penny in research funding.

Ladies and gentlemen I am about to blow the lid on a scandal which has been under reported since the dawn of time.

First I need to qualify the way this disturbing discovery came to light.

Over the last three days I have conducted an online poll amongst a specially selected group backed by a telephone survey to qualify the results I obtained.

Furthermore I checked with a medical statistician I met (now there’s an afternoon I won’t get back in a hurry!) and he confirmed that both my methodology and analysis were valid – albeit slightly skewed by my sampling method – and could be confidently reported.

He even did a proper statistical analysis of my results for me and found that my results were ‘significant as the p value was less than 0.05’ which means that I stood a less than 5% chance of being wrong.

So, having had my findings verified I knew that I must press on and inform the world of my news.

PRESS RELEASE – All agencies
Ray Collins discovers shocking truth about UK population

London, February 2016

Health writer and author Ray Collins, 50, of Bristol England, has discovered a significant health issue which is afflicting large numbers of the UK population.

Many members of the public have been under the impression that their health and well being is as good as it can be, but Collins’ new research has called this common assumption into question.

Following literally minutes of in depth research which was subsequently validated by a Birmingham University statistician who expressed no surprise at the findings and corroborated the study as significant, Collins revealed the shocking news that many of us have more than the average number of legs.

Previous studies have shown that due to genetic changes and the effects of surgery following trauma the mean number of adult lower limbs in the UK is 1.9999.

From a fully controlled study of 38 respondents Collins was able to establish that none of them had 1.9999 legs and in fact they all had two. After his initial small sample study the research team, comprising Collins and his canine companion, proceeded to canvass several members of the local community and his fears were confirmed.

In every case his study returned the same value, two legs appeared to be the case rather than the 1.9999 the data screen indicated.

Asked to comment on his findings Collins said “We analysed the data from many angles and found the prevalence of two legged adults to be the norm, even allowing for latitude, use of multi-vitamin supplements and whether they had had their dinner or not.”

The head of the NHS was asked to comment on this ground breaking news but refused to comment, and may have been a bit rude in reply to a perfectly reasonable request as it happens.


The truth is out there – honestly

Ok, so why have I wasted several perfectly good minutes of your life with such a load of twaddle?

My apologies for having done so – to be honest it was a bit of fun putting it all together, and please believe me every word is true. I really did do the survey and I am grateful to m’learned friend for his assistance with the abacus to validate my ‘research’.

But when I read a piece in last Friday's Times I couldn’t help myself.

You may have seen it under the headline ‘Cheer up...seasonal depression is a myth’ which described how a research team had shown ‘seasonal affective disorder is probably a myth’.

I read with interest how a study of 35,000 adults in the US had been surveyed by the team from Auburn University in Alabama who had concluded that there was no basis for the depressive state that many claim to suffer in the darker months of the year.

But away from the headlines there is a big issue with this report – and many other significant ones.

The big issue is that they have got it wrong. The smaller issues are that in getting it wrong they have compounded assumptive errors with statistical cock-ups and sampling misrepresentations.

The best way I could think of to show you what that looked like in simple terms was to mock up my own story using the same flawed approaches this research team did – and show how they can cover their tracks with a simple bit of statistics.

Based upon my analysis of the fully published report(1) I found the following issues with the way it had been drawn together:

  • The sampling method used was a telephone survey which is a very blunt tool and is no substitute for a face-to-face diagnosis by a trained clinician, meaning that only the self reported patient presentation was captured – and as Dr House correctly says “patients lie!”.
  • The team were asking complete strangers about issues involving mental health, which because of the stigma attached to it can lead to compromise, but also the fact that there could have been other people within earshot of the subject it might have lead to modification of their answers... once again I refer you to the words of Dr House.
  • Because no attempt was made to define what the team meant by depression in their survey this was left open to interpretation by the responders, and subsequently by the interviewers. This undoubtedly led to bias.

Perhaps more worryingly wasn’t how the Times chose to report this story, when you see what more hysterical titles did you will understand the impact this flawed research could have on sufferers of this condition.

For instance when the Daily Mail screams ‘Stop blaming SAD for your bad mood – it doesn't exist! Seasonal changes have 'NO effect on depression' it is entirely reasonable to assume any new cases would get a less than sympathetic hearing.

Just like my dubious research we all need to be careful that the ‘science’ all newspapers crave to justify their own views is properly conducted – clearly this study was nothing of the sort.

So, I would like to assure any of you who read this article and began to doubt what you knew to be true that your instincts were correct – seasonality does affect mood.

Probably not as much as badly written research and myopic news reporting does though!

Yours, as always


P.S. If your mood is lower at this time of year ensure your magnesium and vitamin D levels are kept up – and if necessary use special light bulbs to help.


(1) Traffanstedt, M. K., Mehta, S., & LoBello, S. G. (2016). Major Depression With Seasonal Variation Is It a Valid Construct?. Clinical Psychological Science, 2167702615615867.

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