Wednesday, 10 July 2013

I speak your weight, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


Demogblog has two pieces of interest on Salby, here and here, that you should read, filling in details I didn't know when I wrote what follows.  I don't know if people picked up on some I what I say below but I have seen some points I make repeated elsewhere.  It is nice to see I am not alone in my conclusions at least. What follows has not been changed:
"Science is never settled. If something is settled, it's not science"  Murry Salby
Meet Murry Salby.  He needs your help because he has found himself without employment since MacQuarie University decided it could happily carry on without him.  Formerly he had employment at the University of Colorado-Boulder where he was a stunning success, as witness by the entries at  Here are some highlights (cough) from his page:
Worst class I've taken at CU. Very unaproachable, rude, didn't explain diagrams he drew, uninteresting. If you're going to take this class, make sure you get the other teacher.

One of the worst professors I've encountered. The class could have been interesting and clear but he made it complicated and completely unclear. Terrible instructor

Lectures very boring and dull...notes taken right out of the textbook so why bother going?

Very knowledgable and posessed technical mastery of the material. Course was as interesting as the prof. Superb.

Very boring and unclear lectures. 

I hated going to his classes. Boring!

Straightforward class, but a bit of a tightwad with policies, no curves on tests, and also has bad habit of totally stopping class for people talking the slightest bit...needs to loosen up there a bit IMO 
OK, I lied.  They are all seven of the comments but, although this is a small sample size, I think we make some sort of conclusion.  Not the best lecturer, then.

We don't have to rely on the postings of students.  We can look on YouTube (hooray) and watch the man in action himself (boo).  Go on, try sitting through the video I put up the top.  At the end (skip to it, I did), Salby quotes Richard Feynman, so for comparison, here's the late, great, Nobel Prize winning (no, he really did, Lord Monckton, and got a medal and not a phoney pin badge) Feynman in action, in the video that Salby quotes from:

By the way, Salby says that Feynman came up with a term for the sort of science he decries: Cult Science.  But that's not what Feynman said.  He called it Cargo Cult Science, after the cargo cults, the strange beliefs that arose in some tribes when modern aircraft began arriving, disgorging their cargoes.  Want to check, go here.

Macquarie got a bit indignant about the deniersphere's release of Salby's whiney statement about why he got sacked so they issued their own statement.  Fair enough.  They can put their side.  Willard has a pop:
The PDF I received from MS Wheatley is here: SalbyStatement_July2013
According to the PDF document properties, the statement appears to be authored by Golda Mitchell who can be seen here:
Given the furor this has generated, it seems odd they’d leave this to the lowest person on the organizational ladder. -Anthony
Lowest on the ladder or not, Ms Mitchell's role is:
Golda offers support to staff and students to assist with their communication needs. She also acts as a media liaison, handling enquiries and acting as a point of contact for media requests. 
My bold because Willard obviously can't read. She did it, Anthony, because it's here job.

Nice touch, though, to link to her work phone and email addresses. Classy that, considering the type of pondlife that inhabits WUWT.  I bet she can't wait to read her inbox tomorrow morning.

Onto some comments:
Duncan says:
Apparently Lord Monckton has spoken to Salby. Expect things to get more interesting in the next couple of days….
Might be better than the monotonous delivery that Salby prefers.  Then again, not.
That’s all they have – he failed to show up for a class?
No, if you read the Macquarie statement, it is one of the things.  But then again, as a teacher myself, if I didn't turn up to teach a class, I'd be knee deep in the doo doos.  After all, it's what I am paid to do, amongst other things, like grading...
TrevH says:
A disciplinary hearing without the disciplinee surely is illegal – even under Canadian law?
Well done TrevH.  You win the prize for the stupidest comment.  Macquarie is in Sydney, Australia , which, despite being in the Commonwealth, does not use Canadian law.  But otherwise, Trev, buy an atlas.

 And now, the power players flex their threat muscles:

Reed Coray says:
Macquarie University’s “response” to the Salby affair brought two thoughts to mind. First, the University took the admittedly unusual step of responding at all because the University felt “…it is necessary to do so in order to correct misinformation.” Nowhere in its response do I see any “corrections to misinformation.” I see additional information and a possible alternate explanation for the University’s actions, but I see no “corrections to misinformation.” Second, I believe the University’s stated reason for responding is phony. If “correcting misinformation ” were the true reason for the response, the response would not be unusual. Surely there exist thousands of examples of “misinformation” to which the University simply remained silent. I believe the reason the University responded is because (a) it felt the pressure of the internet’s response to the affair, and (b) it may already have heard from some of the “powerful backers” alluded to in Lord Monckton’s statement: “This case is outrageous. I shall be finding out further details from Professor Salby and shall then arrange for powerful backers to assist him in fighting the university, which – if his side of the story is in all material respects true – has committed multiple criminal offenses. This needs to be a high-profile case.” All-in-all, I’m neither impressed by the University’s response nor convinced I was exposed to “misinformation.”
As usual, we can rely on Monckton to be on the ball.  Problem is, he has backed off in the moment of giving his support ("... if his side of the story is in all material aspects true" which there is a good chance that it isn't).  How Monckton knows that Macquarie has committed "multiple criminal offenses" I don't kow.  I suspect he knows as much about Australian law as I do and I suspect that any matters arising out of employment are civil matters and not criminal ones.  But I don't know.

As for correcting misinformation - I think giving what the university sees as the truth and not bothering with Salby's cry baby statement is correcting misinformation, as the university sees it.  I guess Reed Corey uses the same opticians as Willard.

Ed_B says:
I got to admit, this could be the trial of the century for a CAGW run university. Too bad in Galileo’s time he did not have the internet and powerful backers to mount a proper challenge...
But Galileo did have powerful backers, including the Pope, Urban VIII and members of the Medici family.  If Galileo hadn't been foolish, he wouldn't have got into the trouble he did.  His fault, I'm afraid.

Some sense:
Eli Rabett says:
Failure to meet classes is one of the few things you can lose tenure and be fired for in a university, let alone for a contract employee. The other thing is that the committee included a union representative, and they are not exactly famed for not sticking to the letter of contracts.
Couldn't the deniers have spotted the bit I put in bold.

But, as usual, Willard will not be brooked:
pokerguy says:
Be fair. The university has laid out credible reasons for the termination. It’s not enough to say it seems “weak” to you. On what basis? You have no idea of the what went on with the graduate student, so not fair to bring her in. Let’s at least wait to hear from the Professor.
We need to be better than the other side. We need to be fair minded and judicious. We have the science and data increasingly on our side. You’re only undermining your own credibility.
REPLY: I’m entitled to state my opinion, and my opinion at this point is that it seems weak. What remains to be seen is if the university constructed the situation by cancelling travel documents while Salby was away from the university. Dr. Salby in his original statement is the one who brought int he mention of the grad student, not I. had he not, there would be no reason to mention her. Note, I have not mentioned her name, only her existence and the fact that her email address at Macquarie seems to have been rescinded. – Anthony
Yes, Willard, you are entitled to state you opinion but the problem seems to be that the modest and sober statement of the university runs against teh petulant and childish (my opinion) statement by Salby, which you published.  Did you not read it?  Did you not want some answers to questions.  I did.

What are the mysterious resources that Macquarie weren't providing?  Why were lines of code needing to be converted?  I think Australia has the internet, and Microsoft and Linux.  Just saying.

Then there is the question of having been banned from reporting on his research, what was he doing in Europe:
Presentation of our research was then blocked by Macquarie.
The obstruction was imposed after arrangements had been made at several venues
(arranged then to conform to other restrictions imposed by Macquarie).
Macquarie’s intervention would have silenced the release of our research.
Obligations to present our new research on greenhouse gases (previously arranged), had to be fulfilled at personal expense. 
Upon arriving at Paris airport for my return to Australia, I was advised that
my return ticket (among the resources Macquarie agreed to provide) had been cancelled. The latest chapter in a pattern, this action left me stranded in Europe,
with no arrangements for lodging or return travel. The ticket that had been cancelled was non-refundable. 
I'm confused.  Not difficult because Salby's whinge contains a lot of vagueness but, if he was not permitted to present his findings yet went ahead and did so, that sounds like misconduct.  And paying to fulfil the obligations was, apparently out of his own pocket so why was Macquarie paying for the air fare?  I don't think Monckton's powerful backers are going to have a lot of success with this one. 

Anyway, back to the world of common sense:
Chad Wozniak says:
dirty lying verminous mendacious hypocrites, no surprise with CRL (criminal reactionary left) types
Sorry, I got that a bit wrong, didn't I?

Along comes Smokey:
dbstealey says:
The bunny says:
“Failure to meet classes is one of the few things you can lose tenure and be fired for in a university…”
Fine. So long as that Policy is enforced across the board and applies to everyone, no problem.
But based on everything I’ve seen, I would suspect that this is a fabricated excuse to cover their butts. Plenty of staff miss classes on occasion — in every university. Further, at least in the U.S., just cause discipline requires an ascending series of warnings prior to termination.
Also, “.edu” unions in the U.S. are notoriously co-opted by school administrations. It is probably the same in Australia. What union worth it’s dues would cooperate in a disciplinary hearing where the subject was denied attendance by the actions of the school administration?
Like he'd know. I don't think the issue was missing the odd class because of some other, unexpected or planned absence, but an active avoidance.  That's what the Macquarie statement says to me.  Perhaps Smokey is forgetting his glasses so for his benefit, I've highlighted in bold, underlined and put in italics the key word:
After repeated directions to teach, this matter culminated in his refusal to undertake his teaching duties and he failed to arrive at a class he had been scheduled to take.  (from the Macquarie statement) 
Something else:

Max Hugoson says:
Dear Ms. Wheatley:
Is the Australian use of English that divergent from the USA usage, or is this just “poor writing”?
The answer is Australian English is divergent from US English.  That was easy.

A possible nugget of gold:
ICU says:
Nick & dbstealey,
PACER (the 2nd link) has all the documentation (online) in the federal civil suit that Dr. Salby filed against UC Boulder at .$0.10/page (but no charge if you stay below the quarterly page limit). I’ve already downloaded those particular case documents. Bottom line? Dr. Salby dropped the suit in order to refile a civil suit (IMHO, but NAL, Dr. Salby would have lost the federal case) in the state of Colorado district court system (Denver) and I’m in the process of getting a copy of those documents also (hardcopy only as I see no online versions available).
The federal court case is a rather interesting read though, not a mirror image of the current affair by any means, but there are several similarities IMHO, and on the state of Colorado court side, there might be a few other interesting cases of Dr. Salby’s (the last link charges $2.00/name search, I think there were 8-10 cases with names similar to Murry Salby, with a definite hit on the state court case that Dr. Salby filed).
Deja vu? You decide.
Could it be that Salby has form?  Don't know and not going to follow the trail.  I'm sure someone else will but it is interesting that his previous employmentseems to have ended in some acrimony.  But the documents might tell a different story.

More common sense:
Nick Stokes says:
Theo Goodwin says: July 10, 2013 at 1:22 pm
“It is long established in academia that missing classes is not a firing offense.”
But “refusal to undertake his teaching duties” “fter repeated directions to teach” would be a firing offense in any context.
And finally, I'm not sure what actually Salby is moaning about, other than losing his job.  Running off to a lecture series having been suspended sounds like employment suicide but we don't really know.  As for the teaching bit.  From what those ratings say near the top, I'm not sure the students wanted to turn up to his classes either.  Now wouldn't that be ironic - Salby missed a class that no students attended.

1 comment:

  1. You may want to take another look at

    I finally got the record of the 2nd court case against University of Colorado, posted it and updated the chronology.

    See also discussion @ Rabett Run.

    Of course, one has to be careful of RateMyProfessors, but I looked at the CU databases of evaluations, and they were consistent. Salby generally rated in bottom 15-20%.

    Monckton (as 1000frolly) split Salby's video into 5 parts and posted them on YouTube, with comments decrying Macqquarie's evil treatment ... but these versions disappeared after afew weeks. Mocnkton follwoed a pattern seen elsewhere:

    "if this is true" ... then paragraphs of attack on Macquarie and others.