Ho Hum

British computer scientists have determined that April 11, 1954 was the most boring day in history, as reported in the Boston Globe.

On that day a general election was held in Belgium, a Turkish academic was born and an Oldham Athletic footballer called Jack Shufflebotham died. Apart from that nothing much happened.


Of course, “boringness” here is a function of “eventfulness.” As these few recorded historical events are relatively unimportant to the progress of history, the day is deemed boring.

It appears to me that there are three ways to dispute this claim. One is to argue that the importance of these events is being underestimated, as would be the case if Shufflebotham’s death saddened local, Cheshire authorities and propelled them to institute more aggressive policies supporting football play among the youth, and in these programs some number of children felt long-term benefits on their life chances. A second is to claim that there are unrecorded, important (unboring) events on that day, as would be the case if you felt, for example, that everyday is a gift and includes innumerable, extraordinary events, like photosynthesis. A third is to claim that the final word on events isn’t in until the end of history, and thus some future event may take place that increases the importance we give to those events on April 11, 1954. I’m not sure how to build a hypothetical from these events (the Turkish academic discovers a cure for cancer? Belgian elections start to resemble the one in 1954?), but evidence that such a thing can take place can be found in Bearman, Farris and Moody.


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