An Apology: The Royal Institution

Earlier this year, in common with other media, this blog pledged its support to a campaign to save the Royal Institution from financial oblivion. In doing so I may have given the impression that the Royal Institution is a venerable and  highly esteemed organization dedicated to the task of bring science closer to the public and inspiring future generations with its exciting range of outreach activities, including its famous public lectures.

However, in the light of the Royal Institution’s recent decision to trademark the phrase “Christmas Lectures” , I now realize that this was misleading and in fact the Royal Institution is just another rapaciously self-serving organization, run by small-minded buffoons, which is dedicated to nothing but its own self-aggrandizement. It has further become clear that the RI will do anything it can to maintain its cushy existence in a  fancy property in Mayfair to the detriment of all  outreach activities elsewhere, and  should therefore be shut down immediately as a threat to the future health of UK science.

Moreover, as a protest, this blog calls upon all University science departments in the United Kingdom to organize their own series of  Christmas Lectures Yuletide Discourses  under the title Not the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, beginning each presentation with a lengthy preamble describing the unpleasant and idiotic actions of the Royal Institution and explaining why its Christmas Lectures® should be boycotted.

I hope this clarifies the situation.

P.S. For more blog outrage, see here, here here…. (cont., p94).

14 Responses to “An Apology: The Royal Institution”

  1. Matthew Smith Says:

    I’ve already sent my letter of complaint.

  2. Anton Garrett Says:

    Is trademarking just a matter of filling in a form and paying money to the government, or do the authorities verify that the trademarking is plausible? If the latter then they too bear some responsibility for this disgrace.

  3. Monica Grady Says:

    Barking mad
    Monica Grady
    Ri Christmas Lecturer, 2003

    Am I allowed to sign myself thus, or am I infringing a copyright somewhere?

  4. Mark McCaughrean Says:

    Oh dear … probably not the response of solidarity that you were hoping for, but your post and Monica’s response led me down the rabbit hole to the RI’s website where I’ve started enjoying Carl Sagan’s 1977 lectures on the planets … sorry 🙂

    • Jim Wild Says:

      You want to be careful “enjoying” things so blatantly. Isn’t “enjoy” a trademark of the Coca Cola Corporation?

  5. […] I came across this here piece by Banksy and couldn’t resist sharing it here, especially in the light of the Royal Institution’s infamous trademarking.. […]

  6. mike barrie Says:

    With both institutions in disarray, it occurs to me that the CofE or RC could gain some brownie points by taking a stand on this. If the Archbishop or Pope announced a series of Christmas Lectures it could make for an interesting court case.

    • telescoper Says:

      I like it.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      I think the RI is seeking to trademark specifically *science* Christmas lectures.

      Of course it might help if we knew the time of year of the nativity, rather than plonking it on an old pagan festival.

  7. Fancy lectures and champagne receptions in Mayfair are lovely if you’re a minor TV celebrity or a high-ranking academic, but in 2013 you can see Adam Rutherford in a pub for a fiver and buy him a pint afterward. As Ben Goldacre argued recently , these people “are the Royal Institution of today. Open, smart, accessible, nerdy, free and inclusive to anyone who cares.” They are a big part of the future of science outreach in London and beyond, taking science out of institutions and onto the street, delivering incredible results on budgets that would struggle to pay for 21 Albermarle Street’s heating bill.

  8. Gilbert Hall Says:

    What an absurd over reaction! Plainly someone at the RI has made a very objectionable decision and it deserves ridicule. But that’s nowhere near enough reason to write off the RI!

    My daughter and I greatly enjoyed the Christmas Lecture we managed to get tickets for this year. There’s nothing else like it. Long live the RI!

  9. Phillip Helbig Says:

    Apparently the Royal Institution did backtrack on this. However, they are now selling important historical items in order to raise money.

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