Until recently, I had only known of Thomas Carlyle as a writer, mightily significant in the 19th century, but somehow superannuated by the time I heard of him.  However, recently I learnt that he is responsible for that famous English mis-definition:

A straight line is the shortest distance between two points.

which he gave us while translating the Eléments de géométrie of Legendre.  The great French mathematician actually wrote

"La ligne droit est le plus court chemin d'un point à un autre."

where chemin means path, not distance.  Path is often denoted by the letter s, and in a relative sort of way this comes out as

ds2 = dx2 + dy2 + dz2 - dt2

once you are into Minkowskian spacetime.

However, today I found myself again thinking that "the longest distance between two points is a path at Reading University", as I tried to trundle a trolley of this type between the back of Physics and the back of Chemistry (neighbouring departments) .  The operation took a good part of half-an-hour, because architects and landscape designers had been at work, and there was only one very roundabout path I could take without  excessively jarring the stuff I had on the trolley.
But architects have caused much more trouble than that.  Social housing in Britain from the 1960s was much inflenced by the ideas of
Ernő Goldfinger(after whom the Bond villain was named).  He it was who introduced tower blocks to this country, and this was followed by designs in which whole estates were connected by flying walkways and alleys in which malevolent characters could lurk.  Recently, on a programme about a crime audit in Oxford, it was stated that redesign of estates in a much less "architectural" but more user-friendly style has greatly reduced antisocial behaviour.

Back to Carlyle.  Ref [2] quotes from the Encylopaedia Britannica:

Though incapable of lying, Carlyle was completely unreliable as an observer, since he invariably saw what he had decided in advance that he ought to see.

Not only him, methinks.

Biographies of Carlyle:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Carlylemostly literary.
http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Biographies/Carlyle.htmlwith more emphasis on his mathematical career.