Positive advice

October 19, 2007

Do come in, Doctor Millmoss. Welcome to the Arts and Humanities Research Council. You wanted to know the result of your research proposal?

That's right.

Perhaps you'd like to remind members of the council of your proposal?

I wanted to empirically examine the proposition that the increasing reliance upon market forces in this country was leading to a commodification of life in which social relationships had become increasingly instrumental and in which any notion of community had been sacrificed to the pursuit of self-interest.

Thank you, Doctor Millmoss. A fascinating thesis but one that, if confirmed, could hardly produce any obvious economic benefit to this country. Indeed, it could even suggest that the criterion of economic benefit was not an appropriate basis for future policymaking.

I suppose it might.

Now look here, Millmoss. All of us here at the AHRC are aware that mere economic benefit can't be the sole reason for rejecting a proposal. That's why we've also announced that we'll take into account the manner in which any research might impact upon what we call the "general quality of life".

I see.

But I'm afraid that in your case this hardly helps matters. You would agree that if confirmed your thesis might, if anything, have rather depressing implications for our current way of life?

I suppose so.

I'm afraid that your proposal fails on all counts. Might I make a small suggestion? If you intend to resubmit, could you ensure that your revised proposal either guarantees some economic benefit or confirms the view that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds. Do I make myself clear?

Oh yes.

And a small personal point: do jolly up a little.

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