It's about time for us to change our clocks again. And, once again, news articles will proudly proclaim that this was all Ben Franklin's brilliant idea.
The problem is, Ben Franklin was joking. He begins by describing how he accidentally awoke before noon and discovered light coming in his window. He describes how his friends were skeptical, including their alternate explanation that, since he left his window open, "instead of letting in the light, had only served to let out the darkness."
And his plan wasn't to change the clocks. He wanted police to prevent people from burning candles at night and to "let all the bells in every church be set ringing; and if that is not sufficient?, let cannon be fired in every street, to wake the sluggards effectually, and make them open their eyes to see their true interest."
Or maybe he was serious. In that case, we should respect his wishes and give him credit in exactly the way he asked. He doesn't claim to have "discovered" that the sun rises early in the summer. He knew that even the "ancients" could probably have predicted that. But what they didn't know, and that he claims to have discovered, is that the sun "gave light as soon as he rose. This is what I claim as my discovery."
Pretty soon we'll be eating Soylent Green and claiming it was all the wonderful idea of Jonathon Swift.