“You should be worried about all the things that can go wrong!” says insurance company

It’s not uncommon that the Daily Mail features worrying news, but it’s relatively rare that that their worrying news is specifically about worrying:

How much does your worry WEIGH? Quiz allows you to determine if your stress is the equivalent of a feather, a pig or a bear

Ever wanted to know much worry you’re carrying on your shoulders? Well now you can.

From a 100g feather to a 78st grizzly bear, a new interactive tool allows users to get a rough calculation of how much their stresses weigh.

Created using a formula, the ‘weight of worry’ calculator asks people how often they fret about various factors in their life.

Source: Daily Mail, 3rd March 2017

That’s right, this astonishing new interactive tool can actually tell you the weight of your worries! Like that’s a real thing, and like worries are measured by the gram! It’s amazing what they can do with nonsensical marketing science these days, isn’t it?

How might they calculate the weight of your worries, you may well ask? Well, you see, it’s simple: they ask you to rank a range of issues on a scale of 1 to 10:

Then they ask entirely-quantifiable questions, like:

How much time you spend worrying about money / finances each day, in minutes?

How much time you spend worrying about PERSONAL ISSUES each day, in minutes?

How much time you spend worrying about FAMILY each day, in minutes?

If you can’t spot the problem here, consider precisely how anybody is meant to quantify what “time spent worrying” means – do you add up the duration of every thought? Or do you only count time where you’re sitting down actively fretting? What if your mind wanders to money woes while you’re driving – is that counted as time worrying, or time driving? If you have two thoughts lasting 10 seconds, two minutes apart, is that two minutes of worrying or just 20 seconds?

None of these questions are answerable, because time isn’t a meaningful measure of worry, especially in self-reported studies. This is meaningless, non-data.

Still, once they have your meaningless data, they need to do *something* with it – which is why they use a specially-derived (aka ‘made up’) formula to turn your numbers into a weight:

HOW THE WEIGHT WAS CALCULATED

The researchers used the formula 5a+Y+T = X to determine how much someone’s stress may physically weigh,

a = general worry level across all areas of life

Y= total level of other worries in each area of life (family, money, etc.)

T= total time spent worrying

X= weight

And then, obviously, they turn that weight into an equivalent-sized animal:

From a 100g feather to a 78st grizzly bear, a new interactive tool allows users to get a rough calculation of how much their stresses weigh

So that’s obviously bulletproof and rigorous research, and well-worthy of this story’s inclusion in the Daily Mail Health section.

Needless to say, this is not legitimate research, and is merely an advert disguised as science, created by insurance firm LV=:

Politics, economics and social affairs are just three of the potential concern factors in the tool developed by LV=.

The British car, home and life insurance firm has concluded the average weight of worry to be 496lbs (225kg) – similar to that of a panda bear, pig or lion.

Effectively, this spurious and nonsensical stress calculator is just a way of saying, “Hey, people, aren’t you worried that something bad will happen and you won’t be able to afford to pay for it? Get some insurance from us!”.