Laurie Taylor – 10 September 2015

The official weekly newsletter of the University of Poppleton. Finem respice!

September 10, 2015
Man sitting and reading in mid air
Blue skies thinking

This is higher education!

“It’s a serious contravention of our newly adopted UCL protocol on joking behaviour.”

That was how Jamie Targett, our Director of Corporate Affairs, reacted to an online announcement that the new term at Poppleton would be marked by a collective attempt to levitate the university and its entire academic staff.

However, one of the signatories to the announcement, Mr Ted Odgers of the Department of Media and Cultural Studies, told our reporter, Keith Ponting (30), that the levitation plan was “deadly serious”. For although the 1967 attempt by hippies to levitate the Pentagon as part of the anti-Vietnam War protest was generally regarded as a failure, there were solid grounds for believing that conditions at Poppleton were now more auspicious.

What made the critical difference, he told Ponting, was the dramatic rise in the number of support staff. “In the past, the sheer weight of academics would have imperilled such an enterprise but now they were, as in two-thirds of other UK universities, in a clear minority, it would be relatively easy for the new army of support workers to hoist them skywards.”

Targett, however, described this reference to support staff as “misinformed”. Only 73 per cent of Poppleton staff fell into this category, a figure that compared well with Bradford (63), Wolverhampton (62) and Aberystwyth (61). “I’m pleased to say”, he added, “that there is wide and continuing support for the support provided by our support staff.”

Boxer shorts various colours

Science marches on

“A totally unbalanced perspective.”

This was the instant reaction of our leading social psychologist, Dr Mike Goshworthy, to the news that a major US investigation into published psychology articles had found that more than half the cited results were not reproducible, with reproducibility being particularly unsuccessful in social psychology.

Dr Goshworthy argued that the results of the investigation, as published in Science, showed a misunderstanding of “the complexities of his discipline”. “Consider my own recently published experiments on whether or not people who wear coloured underpants are more or less likely to be able to stand on their head. Now although the results clearly show that there is a significant relationship (p<0.05) between coloured pants and capacity for upside-downness, it is perfectly possible that another social psychologist would fail to find such positive results because of such variables as the colour and hue of the underpants or the relative verticality of the upside-downness.”

“Let’s face it,” he added, “if social psychology is to proceed with its proud mission of discovering the secrets of human social behaviour, it can’t be shackled with such ancient scientific shibboleths as reliability and validity.”

University ethics society

The first meeting of the new term will debate the following question:

“Was UCL’s decision to underpay the female staff on its Qatar site evidence of a total failure to follow its own much heralded commitment to gender equality or nothing more than a misdirected joke.”

(All welcome.)

Thought for the week

(contributed by Jennifer Doubleday, Head of Personal Development)

We must warmly welcome the decision by the University of Toronto to include homeopathy in its current staff health plan. It’s a decision that can only help advance the cause of alternative medicine and just possibly expedite the return of the leeches that were stolen from the Development Centre last term.

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