Why Daylight Saving Time Is Stupid
On 29 October, the superstitious annual ritual known as Daylight Saving Time ended in Europe, and for my American readers it will end this coming Sunday, on 5 November. For half or more of every year, we collectively pretend that it is one hour later than it actually is, even though doing so is entirely pointless and serves merely to increase stress and confusion.
There is a charming Anglophone tradition of crediting Benjamin Franklin with the invention of everything, and DST is often laid at the feet of this poor man. The accusations are unjust. Franklin’s crime was merely penning a sarcastic takedown of Parisian nightlife in 1784, in which he suggested that the revelling citizens of that city might spare much lamp oil if only they would go to bed earlier.
The true inventor DST was an entomologist named George Vernon Hudson, who wanted more daylight on summer evenings to facilitate his after-work bug collecting. In 1895, Hudson presented a paper proposing a summer-time programme of setting clocks two hours forward to the Wellington Philosophical Society, and he was justly ridiculed for his idiocy. One respondent called his idea “wholly unscientific and impracticable,” while another pointed out that “the mere calling the hours different would not make any difference in the time.” (A certain Mr. Richardson, however, channeling Franklin, “said that it would be a good thing if the plan could be applied to the young people.”) Hudson published his proposal in 1898, and ultimately won a British builder named William Wil
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