The fortune of misattribution

There is a famous derogatory quote about the Swiss, and how their greatest accomplishment is merely inventing the cuckoo clock. Contrary to that quote, the Swiss have an illustrious list of inventions and discoveries to their credit. Also, they didn’t invent the cuckoo clock. It was invented in Southern Germany.

Misattribution is only too common. Several misquotes find their way to famous people. Inventions are falsely attributed to inventors and to nations. It is easy to pass off a cuckoo clock as a Swiss invention, because our ideas of the Swiss and cuckoo clocks are close enough to make this connection.

Our reputation precedes us, even if it isn’t true. Now that may not always be a good thing, but like the makers of Swiss cuckoo clocks, we could sometimes use that reputation to our advantage.