The Most Boring Day of the Last Century
In today’s always-on news environment — 24-hour cable news channels, Twitter and Facebook, the ever-updating websites of newspapers — it seems that something is always going on. But if you were to take a collection of days — let’s say, a century’s worth — one of those days needed to be slower than the rest. Or, put another way, the 20th century had to have one day which was the most boring of them all.
According to researchers at a company called True Knowledge (now Evi), that date: April 11, 1954.
Above is the front page of the Washington Post on the day after, and you’ll see that, well, there wasn’t a lot going on. The Masters ended in a tie, with a playoff set for the next day (Sam Snead ended up winning); the U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles met with UK Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden about the First Indochina War; and Belgium held an election. With apologies to Belgians everywhere, this looks like a good candidate for Most Boring Day, and the front page of the New York Times, below, is in agreement.
Of course, True Knowledge was a bit more scientific than “let’s look at front pages of newspapers.” The company, which was acquired by Amazon in 2012, is a semantic search engine — it scans through text with the hope of not only indexing the words on a page but also figuring out the meaning of whatever it ingests. Per CBS News, the software “sort[s] 300 million facts about people, places; and events” in hopes of finding something interesting — and in the case of the events of April 11, 1954, came up basically empty. Even births were boring that day; per True Knowledge founder William Tunstall-Pedoe, the most notable person born was a Turkish scientist named Abdullah Atalar, who, well… here’s his Wikipedia entry, and he’s not really famous for anything. Per True Knowledge, no one particularly notable died that day, although Wikipedia lists bandleader Paul Specht as having passed away on that date (but we’ll give True Knowledge a pass on that one; it hadn’t heard of Specht, but few of us had).
That said, the science of the algorithm has limits. Like any other program, it’s built with the biases of its creator, so determining the “most boring” date of the century wasn’t an entirely objective endeavor. So if April 11, 1954 was an important date for you or your family, don’t take it personally.
From the Archives: The Day There Was No News: It was April 18, 1930, according to the BBC. Why? Well, nothing much happened.
Take the Quiz: Some random trivia questions that aren’t so boring.
Related: “Boring Meetings Suck: Get More Out of Your Meetings, or Get Out of More Meetings” by Jon Petz.