Last night I was struggling to compose a clue for the latest Azed Crossword competition (No. 2065) so I gave up and switched on the TV. I ended up watching an episode of QI, a popular entertainment programme in the form of a panel game, hosted by Lord Stephen of Fry. The title stands, I think, for Quite Interesting, rather than the active principle found in chinese medicine, which is an extremely useful word to know in Scrabble if you have a Q and no U.
Anyway, one of the features of said television programme is that if guests answer a question not only incorrectly but also in a manner that’s predictable, stale or hackneyed, in such a way that it matches a pre-prepared list of such responses, then a claxon sounds and a penalty of ten points is applied. If you want to hear the claxon…
These forfeits are so frequently applied that it is by no means uncommon for the winner of the quiz to have a net score which is negative.
Anyway, watching this it occurred to me that it suggests a quite interesting way of livening up the business of refereeing grant applications, especially since in these difficult times a good outcome of an application to renew a geant might well be minus two PDRAs!
It’s quite easy to come up with a list of tedious clichés that you’re likely to find in a cosmology application, e.g. “We have now entered an era of precision cosmology…”, “Generic inflationary scenario”, “inspired by string theory”, “assuming a linear bias”, etc etc. From now on I’m going to press the buzzer every time I read such a phrase and subtract the resulting penalty from the score assigned to the proposal.
However, it would be unfair to apply this idea just to cosmology proposals. In order to make it more generally applicable, perhaps my loyal readers might suggest, through the Comments Box, similarly worn out, trite or banal terms appropriate to their own specialism?Follow @telescoper