The institute of bad ideas

September 16, 2005

If you challenge the sharpest minds to solve to problems facing academe, the results can be remarkable. Now repeat the exercise - but this time with some of the most inept scholars to ever stow away in a university. Welcome to the Institute of Bad Ideas.

Dear Dr Howie, Institute of Bad Ideas,

Thank you for your generous letter of August 8 detailing another quite remarkable proposal for a science policy-themed popular television show. Sadly, though, I feel it is unlikely that Channel 6 will commission a series of Framework 7 Collaborative Research Project Love Island . It is a wonderfully imaginative idea - right up there with your previous Who Wants to be a Research Council Responsive Mode Funding Recipient?. But we doubt if there is really an audience for a programme in which teams of academics from across the EU seek out collaborative partners before bidding against each other for funding, on the island of Elba. As always, though, your four-volume "thinktionary" kit has been very popular among staff here - though to our immense frustration we are still unable to get the CD-Roms to work - so please do not lose heart. We all recall with fondness your think-tank's last suggestion, an adaptation of You Are What You Eat titled You Are What the Interaction between Your DNA and Environment Determines in which Richard Dawkins and Steven Rose argue about who bears responsibility for Steven Pinker's hair cut. And, of course, we share your sentiments regarding Patrick Kielty - a ban may be the only answer.

Best wishes, Charlotte Gittly-Hall, Channel 6

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