A New Definition Of Academic Misconduct

  • Date: 14/06/16
  • Judith Curry, Climate Etc.

Ridd was punished by James Cook University for “not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues.” The university even warned that if he does this again, he’ll be tried for serious misconduct.

The latest perversion in research ethics comes to us from James Cook University in Australia. The Australian has the scoop, but it is behind paywall. Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller has an article on this University Censures Science Prof For Fact-Checking Global Warming Claim. Excerpts:

An Australian university recently censured marine scientist Paul Ridd for “failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution,” because he questioned popular claims among environmentalists about coral reefs and global warming.

What was Ridd’s crime? He found out two of the world’s leading organizations studying coral reefs were using misleading photographs to make the case that global warming was causing a mass reef die-off. Ridd wasn’t rewarded for checking the facts and blowing the whistle on misleading science. Instead, James Cook University censured Ridd and threatened to fire him for questioning global warming orthodoxy.

Ridd’s not alone in criticizing some institutions and environmental groups for over-hyping the impacts global warming will have on coral reefs.

In fact, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s own chairman had to come out and dispel notions the reef was almost completely gone.

“We’ve seen headlines stating that 93 percent of the reef is prac­tic­ally dead,” Reichelt said. “We’ve also seen reports that 35 percent, or even 50 percent, of the entire reef is now gone.”

“However, based on our ­combined results so far, the overall mortality rate is 22 percent — and about 85 percent of that die-off has occurred in the far north between the tip of Cape York and just north of Lizard Island, 250 kilometers north of Cairns,” he said. “Seventy-five per cent of the reef will come out in a few months time as recovered.”

The group’s former chairman Ian McPhail even accused environmentalists of “exaggerating the impact of coral bleaching for political and financial gain.”

Despite the campaign to tamp down on reef alarmism, Ridd was punished by James Cook University for “not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues.” The university even warned that if he does this again, he’ll be tried for serious misconduct.

JC reflections

I just love this statement: “not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues.” Folks, we have a new definition of serious academic misconduct. Watch out, Michael Mann.

If this seems like a joke, it isn’t.  I was ostracized from the ‘community’ for criticizing my colleagues overconfidence and failure to adequately account for uncertainty (see the infamous article Climate Heretic Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues).  I thought that, in the midst of all the important issues at play in the climate debate, ‘turning on my colleagues’ was the least of them.

In my previous post Scientists and Motivated Reasoning, I identified a major ethical conflict for scientists between the microethics  of your conscience in adhering to the norms of science, versus the macroethics of your perceived duty to the public, which may be colored by your politics and values.

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