Turing party?

June 26, 2014

In what he described as “a major research breakthrough”, our Head of Computer Science, Professor L. E. D. Scart, has raised serious doubts about our vice-chancellor.

Professor Scart told our reporter Keith Ponting (30) that his research had been initially inspired by the University of Reading’s claim to have revealed a computer program that could fool expert judges into believing that they were hearing responses from a human rather than a machine.

In “a serendipitous move”, Professor Scart compiled a list of the major pronouncements made by our vice-chancellor on the future of Poppleton University during the past 12 months.

Fifty subjects, matched for age, gender and a capacity to withstand boredom, were asked to allocate these statements to one of the following categories:

a. Made by a human being

b. Generated by a computer.

Results revealed that more than three-quarters of the vice-chancellor’s pronouncements were believed to have been computer-generated, a finding that Professor Scart described as “the reverse Turing effect”.

Professor Scart was quick to dismiss Ponting’s suggestion that his research was more about garnering cheap publicity than contributing to scientific progress.

“If we wanted cheap publicity,” Professor Scart retorted, “we could readily have followed the path laid down by the University of Reading and made a public spectacle of ourselves on the Today programme.”

Our vice-chancellor described the results of Professor Scart’s research as “Going Forward”, “The Challenge of Change”, “Commitment to Excellence” and “Password Invalid”.


Poppleton for ever!

“Seriously out of touch with the nature of modern higher education.”

That was how Kirk Swavely, our Senior Manager of External Relations, described recent comments made by the retiring provost of Gresham College, Sir Roderick Floud.

Mr Swavely, who pioneered the “Poppleton Yoony Tops the Pops” advertising campaign on the Dave Channel, was “particularly outraged” by Sir Roderick’s contention that there were far too many universities in the UK.

Poppleton was, he conceded, certainly “well supplied” in this respect. Apart from the University of Poppleton and City University of Poppleton, there were now two private higher education colleges (The Upper Poppleton College of Hedge Fund Management and the Lower Poppleton College of Currency Trading), which both generated fat profits for themselves by virtue of their dubious eligibility for student loans.

“But, it was ridiculous of Sir Roderick”, said Swavely, “to talk about us ‘glowering at each other’. Why would anyone at Poppleton University need to glower? We don’t need to glower. ’Cos we’re the best. We are the champions, my friends. And we’ll keep fighting ’til the end. We are the champions. We are the champions. WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF THE WORLD.”

(Mr Swavely is currently taking compassionate leave of absence.)


Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

Following the news that Thomas Docherty, a professor at the University of Warwick and a well-known critic of current higher education policy, was banned from talking at an event held at his university, we are offering psychological support to any currently serving academic who feels in any way threatened by this development. Apply through the usual channels marking your application ‘McCarthy’.


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