Jul 12, 2013

Censorship? Climate sceptics culled from universities

Two prominent climate sceptics have lost their jobs with their respective universities. As Andrew Bolt cries 'censorship', Crikey looks more closely at the story of Murry Salby and Bob Carter.

Cathy Alexander — Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Cathy Alexander

Freelance journalist and PhD candidate in politics at the University of Melbourne

Two darlings of Australia’s climate sceptic movement have been dumped by their universities, sparking charges of academic censorship from the blogosphere.

The cull makes it harder for the sceptic movement to use academics to push its case by appearing at parliamentary hearings, speaking at events and writing opinion pieces for newspapers.

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21 thoughts on “Censorship? Climate sceptics culled from universities

  1. Geoff Russell

    Most Universities have a code of practice or set of policies or mission statements which contain pledges of a commitment to excellence, or similar. Such clauses are meaningless if they can’t be invoked to get rid of people whose work is simply sloppy and substandard. I don’t know of detailed scrutiny of Salby or Carter’s work, but Professor Ian Plimer’s book “Heaven and Earth” has been analysed in detail and that detailed analysis makes it clear that, at the very least, the book is sloppy and substandard.


  2. JohnB

    This has come not before time.

  3. Liamj

    Salby’s refusal to teach (and thus face questioning?) or provide data substantiating his claims is pretty damning, by any productivity measure he is dead wood. Given that News Corp is a museum of white male dead wood, and their casual approach to facts, whats the bet that Salby &/or Carter end up there.

  4. Cathy Alexander

    If you’re interested in the debate around Salby’s thesis on AGW, as detailed to the Sydney Institute in 2011, this post is not bad:


  5. JohnB

    Re Liamj’s opining that Salby or Carter will end up in the Murdoch stable, Carter at least is such a well-known bore that even the dead white males of News would find his presence trying.

    Better to leave him to is many directorships and other interests; he has plenty of other work in hand.

    Salby is a complete unknown to me. If, as may be the case, the quantity and quality of his output was such as to not reach even the bar of acceptability of academia, then surely even News would baulk at putting him on the payroll.

    Bolt may well be criticised on the basis of quality, but he makes up for any shortcomings there with quantity. Never-ending, unchanging, brain dead, drum beating quantity.

  6. Mike Smith

    Perhaps you mean astronauts have no need to fear for their jobs if they comment on climate change.

  7. Boerwar

    In the past week or so ‘The Australian’ in its eternal quest for excellence in science reporting has had an article by Lomberg, an article by Ridley (someone with something of a credibility issue in the banking industry) extolling the virtues of Carter’s book, and a totally uncritical article by Lloyd (somewhat of serial masher of AGW science) on Salby.

    Some things never change.

  8. Blaggers

    Salby claims temperature data from the Bureau of Meteorology is not robust, and he makes serious claims that the BOM’s temperature records are “routinely readjusted” in a manner that is opaque and “discretionary”. Enough said, really though. Of course the BOM is going to fudge its own data…

    Who’s the greater fool? The Fool or the fool who follows him?

    Time to shut these fools up. Kudos to the universities.

  9. simon.chapman

    Carter was an adjunct appointment. These are typically given to people who make small, occasional contributions to a university Dept like the odd lecture, or helping with a review etc. They have a review date, and very often they are not renewed if the person has accepted the title and its perks like free library access, parking etc but done little to nothing in return. It would be interesting to hear Carter’s account of what he thinks he actually did for the Dept

  10. Gavin Moodie

    Thanx to Cathy Alexander for this excellent work.

    Australian universities do indeed require their staff to achieve appropriate standards of teaching and research but these are rarely used to sack staff; they are mostly used to pressure staff to improve their performance. Some staff resign or retire early to escape this pressure.

    Most academics are dismissed for redundancy (usually as a result of a fall in students in a discipline such as economics at the University of Western Sydney), failure to obey a lawful command or discharge prescribed duties (as in this case) and occasionally for misbehaviour such as fraud or sexual harassment.

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