Is it true that April 11, 1954 was the most boring day in history?

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On November 26, 2010, a piece of news appeared in newspapers around the world: Sunday April 11, 1954 it had been the most boring day in history. The “discovery” was the work of a search engine created by an English computer engineer, William Tunstall-Pedoe. The reason was that, on that day, no noteworthy events had occurred. But is it possible and does it make sense to calculate the most boring day in history? Evidently not and for many reasons: first of all there history is not just made up of events, but also of long-lasting phenomena; furthermore, are we certain that nothing happened at all on April 11, 1954?

The “discovery” of the most boring day in history

The “discovery” of the most boring day in history occurred in November 2010. The author was William Tunstall-Pedoe, a computer engineer specializing in artificial intelligence. Tunstall-Pedoe created the search engine True Knowledge (in 2012 replaced by the more updated Evi and today part of Amazon) and “educated” him by feeding him approximately three hundred million pieces of news. When asked what was the most boring day in history, True Knowledge had no doubts: April 11, 1954. It was in fact the day on which the least noteworthy events had occurred: no deaths of illustrious people, no births of people who would become famous in the future, no news worthy of interest. But are we sure that True Knowledge was right?

Boredom, painting by G. La Touche
Boredompainting by G. La Touche.

Did nothing really happen on April 11, 1954?

April 11, 1954 was a Sunday and, as a result, the institutions were not functioning at full capacity: parliaments were closed, no government meetings were held, etc., which reduced political news, which generally takes up a lot of space. on newspaper. Nonetheless, important events took place. In Political elections were held in Belgium, which recorded the victory of an opposition party. In sport, various competitions of international importance were held, including one Paris-Roubaix cycling.

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The cyclist Raymond Impanis, winner of Paris-Roubaix on 11 April 1954
The cyclist Raymond Impanis, winner of the Paris–Roubaix on 11 April 1954.

There were actually no illustrious deaths (the most famous person who died that day was an American conductor, Paul Specht) but the same happens on many days every year.

Furthermore, the most boring day is also included in the calculation births of illustrious people. Today, those born on April 11, 1954 are seventy years old and in theory still have time to accomplish memorable feats. Some characters born in the day, without becoming famous on a global scale, achieved a certain popularity in the following years. Among them, the British biologist Ian Redmond and the Turkish electronics engineer Abdullah Atalar. What if one of them won the Nobel?

Why there can't be a “boring day”

The calculation of the most boring day is little more than a joke and a successful one publicity stunt. First of all, for the older eras, in which newspapers did not exist, we do not know exactly what happened every day. And we may have already ended the discussion here.

In any case, we must consider that history is not only made up of events, but also and above all of phenomena that last over time (some even very long) and do not have a precise date: the arrival of Columbus in America, the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the Second World War are events that occurred on a very specific date or period; Italian emigration, the evolution of mentality regarding sexual practices, the rise in prices in the 1600s are instead phenomena that do not have an exact beginning and end date.

After all, the very concept of history it is very broad. Historians are also interested in news that may appear trivial to Tunstall-Pedoe's search engine or to most readers, but which may be useful for better understanding a phenomenon.

Finally, it is difficult to apply the concept of “noteworthy event” to the entire human race. As you might imagine, there were certainly people for whom April 11, 1954 was a memorable day for what happened in their private lives.

The most boring day in history? “Yes, it was that 11 April 1954”, “La Repubblica”, 26 November 2010 Computer identifies the most boring day in history, The Telegraph, 26 November 2010 Official site of William Tunstall-Pedoe