Walk around any college in this country and ask students to identify Homer and the vast majority will bring up Bart’s dad rather than the author of The Iliad. Evidently the same holds true in England where at least one academic leader is linking the large number of students who take media studies classes to the decline in the number of British scientists.

Due to a lack of scientists, we risk slipping back into the technological "dark ages" – for media studies graduates, that’s not a reference to the days before colour TV, but a rather grim period of European history 1,000 years ago. No, they didn’t even have black and white telly. This rather stark warning was issued by Sir Peter Williams, president of the British Association. The culprits in this hideous scientific regression? Media studies students, of course – who should be taking physics, chemistry and biology instead.

Of course, there are those who disagree… such as the people who teach media studies.

Raymond Boyle, head of the media studies department at the University of Stirling (one of the UK’s oldest such faculties), resents the perennial sniping at his subject. Mr. Boyle says that his students graduate with a whole range of "transferable skills" – such as the ability to write, think analytically and form arguments (just the sorts of virtues high-brow arts degrees such as the classics are praised for instilling).

Hard to argue with that. Besides, society needs plenty of people to keep reminding us that most of the media that washes over us every day is crap.