Happy National Day of Reason!

Did you know that the National Day of Prayer is still a thing that is celebrated in the ostensibly secular United States of America? It is! It’s the first Thursday of every May, which happens to be today. And did you know that humanists celebrate today as the National Day of Reason? They do! At least since 2003, anyway.

Did you also know that today is BAD CHART THURSDAY?? Well it is, and I was out of ideas until I started thinking about the National Day of Prayer, and how it stacks up to the National Day of Reason. You know, in terms of effectiveness. While searching for possible data points to prove that Reason is better than Prayer or vice versa (this is how one creates a Bad Chart), I stumbled across the remarkable story of Terry Wallis. Wallis was involved in a tragic automobile accident in 1984 that left one person dead and Wallis in a coma. He remained in the coma for 19 years, until one day he suddenly “woke up” and started speaking. He eventually was able to put together sentences and communicate, and his case had interesting repercussions for the field of neurology.

If you’re in the UK, you can see a doc about him from Channel 4 called The Man Who Slept for 19 Years. You can also read more about him on his website.

Wallis inspired the following bad chart, which takes the correlation/causation fallacy to a bold new level. I’m fairly certain that this is the first time anyone has implied that the National Day of Reason had a miraculous effect on a man’s health and on a field of science as a whole.



Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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  1. Your statistical analysis is flawed, Rebecca, because you neglect to take into account the p values of the regression to the mean of coefficient doughnut holes.

    And you call yourself a skeptic.

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