I have been reading an excellent book by Stuart Macintyre and others (No End of a Lesson, Melbourne University Press, 2017) about the ‘Dawkins revolution’ and what happened in the ten years after it. Throughout that period I was at first part of the group making the changes, and then, as Vice-Chancellor, someone who had to cope with them. My own Critical Mass really stops in 1991, when I went from the Australian Research Council to the University of Canberra. Reading No End of a Lesson brought back so many memories of life after the ARC, and indeed during its formation.

One important memory was the way in which universities became fixated (if they were not so already) by the importance of getting research grant money, notwithstanding that there were other most important functions that universities performed. As I pointed out in a speech in the UK in 1990, research had already become the mark of status, not just for academics, but also for universities, and was dominating appointments and promotion. The more research you did, the ‘better’ you were. And the easiest, but quite flawed, way of measuring research excellence was to see how much money an individual academic had ‘brought in’ to the University. From the 1990s onwards research money has been the token of excellence, and woe betide those who don’t do their bit or, worse, impede those who might be trying to do so.

I have mentioned this shift in perspective in the past with reference to the late Professor Bob Carter, who was ousted from a position of honour at his university because he criticised aspects of the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) movement that has infected Western society in the past thirty years. I can readily imagine the ways in which deans would argue to the vice-chancellor: ‘Here we are trying to get decent amounts for global warming studies, and here’s this retired professor making waves denying the importance of what we do!’ No young and aspiring scientist would want to cause waves of this kind when there is so much pressure to bring in grant money — and there’s a lot of it about for global warming, and trips overseas, and important conferences to attend, and government committees to inspire. Carter was a retired emeritus, and then banished from the university, which meant a loss of library privileges.

Well, the pressure to conform is happening again, and at Bob Carter’s old university, James Cook University in Townsville. This time the proposed villain is a professor of physics, Peter Ridd, whose interests include coastal oceanography, the effects of sediments upon coral reefs, past and future climates and atmospheric modelling. I have met Peter Ridd, and I know something about his work. He has been head of the Department of Physics for ten years. His intellectual reach is wider than my short summary here, but I have put in what gives him some status in the world of global warming.

He has been in the news before, drawing attention to the need to change the peer review system, and to what he sees as exaggerated claims about the dangers that threaten the Great Barrier Reef, alleging that scientists or spokespeople for scientific organisations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and government organisations like the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) were not behaving in a scientifically scrupulous way in announcing new claims and about danger. He was not alone in saying these things. The chairman of GBRMPA himself protested that headlines saying that ’93 per cent of the reef is practically dead’ or that 35 per cent or even 50 per cent of the entire reef is now gone’ were rubbish. A former chairman said that ‘environmentalist were ‘exaggerating the impact of coral bleaching for political and financial gain’. Ridd said that a paper by JCU scientists foretelling the end of the reef was simply ‘laughable’. Bleaching is a natural event, and occurred long before there was human activity anywhere near the reef. What is more, reefs recover, sometimes quite quickly.

Nonetheless, the university told him he was ‘not displaying responsibility in respecting the reputations of other colleagues’. Do it again, he was told, and we’ll try you for ‘serious misconduct’. I’ve written about this before, and indeed the above is an introduction to the news that JCU indeed decided to discipline Professor Ridd, and started the process in late August last year. What for? The University’s statement is that it was disturbed by Professor Ridd’s comments on Sky news, to the effect that ‘We can no longer trust the scientific organisations like the Australian Institute of marine Science, even things like the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies… The science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated, and this is a great shame.’ Such statements, said the University, were ‘not in the collegial and academic spirit of the search for knowledge, understanding and truth’. Further, his comments had denigrated AIMS and were ‘not respectful and courteous’. In a letter tabled with the court, the University said that his comments could damage the reputation of AIMS and the University’s relationships with it.

On this occasion, Professor Ridd decided he had had enough, and launched his own court case against the CEO, claiming conflict of interest, apprehended bias and actual bias. It happens that the University’s Vice-Chancellor is a director of AIMS, which produces an obvious conflict of interest. The University then told Ridd he was not to ‘disclose or discuss these matters with media or in any other public forum’. His lawyers pointed out that either the University was incompetent or it was guided by bias, which the University’s lawyers denied.

Peter Ridd was kind enough to write to me  about the alleged misconduct involved in talking to the media about the misconduct allegation, and later alerted me to the fact that there was deemed to be further misconduct  involved in writing to me! I wish him well in all of this, which is so unnecessary, and so inimical to the cause of scholarship, argument and the advancement of knowledge.

I can appreciate the dilemma facing the Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University, for there is no doubt that research grant money is really important. I have to say that I did not have a comparable problem in my eleven years in the role, despite the pressure on everyone to get grant money if they could. Nonetheless, there is no doubt where I think the right is. A scientist who says that other people’s work is flawed has to show cause. In the case of the Great Barrier Reef that is not hard to do. There has been a lot of loud noise based on small pieces of work. It is not widely understood that the Reef is a vast system, and that it is not closely monitored. You would need hundreds, thousands, of researchers and assistants to do that. And there are lots of natural and cyclic causes for changes to the Reef’s coral. These events have happened before, and they will happen again. The correct response from those he has criticised is to respond in the proper way, show that Ridd is wrong, and that their work can withstand his criticism.

To the best of my knowledge that has not happened. Instead, Professor Ridd has been attacked in an ad hominem way. It seems to me utterly wrong for his own University to try to ‘discipline’ him so that he does not criticise others. That is not what science is about. It doesn’t matter what relationships JCU has with AIMS. If the AIMS work is poor, or inflated claims have been made about the importance of its research, the University ought to be able to point that out, and suggest that better work ought to be done, or that claims should be more subdued.

Ah, but this is the Reef, an icon of the environmental movement. And there is a lot of money about for ‘research’ that is ‘consistent’ with the notion that doom is at hand. Like Professor Ridd, I think that the University has gone down utterly the wrong track, and the sooner it departs from it the better. As it happens, the book I referred to at the beginning of this essay, No End of a Lesson, gives instances of other high-handed behaviour from Vice-Chancellors. They are not emperors, and should never give the impression that they think they are.







Join the discussion 87 Comments

  • margaret says:

    Congratulations Dr Graham Farquhar.

    “To me, the most important things in life are to struggle to improve, to struggle to be honest and to struggle to re-evaluate one’s prejudices,” he said.”


    • Don Aitkin says:

      Graham’s great work has been to show the greening of the planet because of the extra carbon dioxide in the air. When you know that, you can see what he was driving at in the remarks that you cited.

      • margaret says:

        Yes I read about his work and the warming and wetting of the planet with the current climate change cycle we’re in.
        I do think those remarks are meant to be wider reaching than that focus though.

  • Aert Driessen says:

    You are 100% correct Don, in saying ‘spot on’. This is the CAGW shemozzle in a nut shell. Sadly, there are many more like Bob Carter and Peter Ridd. A time will come, but not in my lifetime, that all those scientists honouring the Scientific Method, will be recognised as the heroes and the CAGW spruikers as the zombie scientists that they are. And in all of this, apart from the grant money, is the trashing of the Scientific Method which says that evidence trumps everything. These spruikers, so-called scientists, are simply ignoring the evidence. Even worse, they won’t even debate the topic in an open forum. Spot-on Don. Keep up the good work.

  • Paul says:

    That 30 years is stated as the time span that the “CAGW movement … has infected Western society,” is interesting in that there is a relationship with the life of the internet. Prior to 1988 a few universities were connected, then in the next decade is expanded ‘world-wide’ and speeds increased and I first connected. Over the next few years, many folk, as I did had access to on-line papers, discussions and data about global climate change. To me, many of the CAGW arguments were suspect and I was surprised when it was apparently being taken seriously by politicians, administrators and the general public. So by about 2005 the “horse had bolted” with little chance over the time since for the sceptics to counter the movement.

    So as with the situations of Bob Carter, Peter Ridd, and others, integrity and truth had to give way to reputation and money.

    As to whether anything can be done to assist Peter may be problematic, could the experts help?

    As to the GBR’s Crown of Thorns Starfish controversy I well remember Robert Endean’s role in it about 1973-5.

  • Art says:

    I met Peter during a launch of the book, “Climate Change, The Facts 2017” at the Sydney Institute. His is the first chapter in the book, covering the life of of the GRR and its resilience. In his talk, he discussed the degeneration of the peer review process, both within and without the CAGW debate. Indeed, one reads that 2007 was a record year for paper retraction. He is a thoroughly decent person, one for whom intellectual integrity continues to mean a great deal. I bought the book mainly to show support but found it to be well worth reading, even fro those who have followed aspects of the climate debate for years.

    I am curious about your view of the Dawkins “reforms”, Don. When I came to Australia in 1970, I was very impressed with the three-tier systems of higher education: universities, CAEs and TAFE I was subsequently appalled by the Dawkins process because the semi-homoginisation process diluted the effectiveness of each sector as well as adding substantial management costs and interference.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Art, the basic problems of the binary system were, first, that it was founded on the presupposition that there were two ‘types’ of students — those who were only interested in discovery and were very bright, and the rest, who would do the applied stuff. The distinction came from the UK, and seems to have been based on experiences at the Cavendish lab at Cambridge.

      The second reason was that students were attracted to the advanced education sector because it promised jobs at the end. By the end of the 1980s there were more students in the advanced education sector than in the universities.

      Third, the universities turned out more and more PhDs, but were not themselves expanding very much. So the new PhDs went into the advanced education sector because that was where the jobs were. They wanted to continue doing research, and found ways of doing so. But the colleges were not funded for research at all, which led to a lot of anger and irritation.

      Fourth, the university staff at the senior levels liked things just as they were, but the politics of higher education, funnelled into government, was that something had to be done. Nothing was done until Dawkins came along, by which time the system was unstable and unworkable. It ought to have been sorted out ten years earlier.

      Read my book!

  • Art says:

    Correction 2017 for retraction bonanza

  • spangled drongo says:


  • Bryan Roberts says:

    Don, then there was the view from the factory floor. After my post-doc in the US, I came back to a Research fellowship at ANU. These were short-term, and were, optimistically, intended to channel talented people into academic positions in the state universities. Positions that no longer existed, and did not exist for most of my working life.

    I do not know what happened to people in other disciplines, but in Biology, most fled into the (hardly welcoming) arms of the NHMRC. From the Fellow’s point of view, not a desirable outcome, but with success rates of between 30 and 35%, it was survivable. Then Dawkins arrived, and the world fell in. People without PhDs became lecturers, people with half a dozen papers became Professors, and all of them wanted to apply for research funds. Not surprisingly, the success rate (for NHMRC grants at least, though ARC is probably similar) plummeted – it is currently about 10-15%, completely out of reach for anyone not associated with a large, internationally-recognised research laboratory.

    The universities were, and remain, full, and academic positions are almost impossible to get. I was lucky, and I am not typical, getting my first tenured job at the age of 56. There are a lot of disheartened and embittered PhD graduates around, and much of their distress can be laid at Dawkin’s door.

    • margaret says:

      Or, they leave the country and take up a tenured position in another country as my sil has done. It’s just modernity and the new employment situation – not expecting that one can get what so many with PhD’s would like to have within Australian academia.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        margaret, people born and educated in Australia frequently wish to have careers in this country. Dawkins’ heritage was making driving taxis a viable career option for PhDs in women’s studies.

        • margaret says:

          Yes, he was born and educated in Australia and would have preferred to stay at Melbourne University or at least one in the eastern states but was on a 3 year contract that was not renewable. I certainly miss having grandkids closer.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            margaret, Don, Dawkins, the Labor government, and the university sector itself, got it completely wrong. Why should people pay for useless degrees? According to an ABC (I think) survey, only about 50% of graduates believed their degree was useful. If you exclude the professions, in which knowledge is essential (medicine, dentistry, possibly law), most students believe their degree was useless. The CAEs produced people who were useful and employable. Not necessarily taxi drivers. QED

          • margaret says:

            I don’t disagree but … private schools encourage university entrance and back then public did schools also and parents aren’t always savvy enough to resist that lure of ‘the first person in my family to be university educated’ or, ‘I went to university so my daughter/son will too’.

          • margaret says:

            Then again, university life for the student should be about more than getting the right megabucks career. If you are fortunate enough and have worked hard enough to get to university it is also about simply continuing education, the process of life long learning and widening your mindset (often through studying Humanities – despite the current heavy emphasis on STEM).
            Or have we completely forgotten that? Or, were we as parents and young people of the nineties sold a pup? Or, am I simply naive?
            Is university for the student or for itself and those it employs?

          • margaret says:

            Bryan or anyone … what is the purpose of “the university” ?
            I attended the CCAE to upgrade a teacher’s certificate. I had hoped to do this to degree level but with a young family and a husband working long hours I only upgraded to Diploma. That’s just some background for those who could care less.
            As I’ve mentioned before for those who could care less my three children all achieved a then TER score sufficiently high to get in law if they had wanted to but while one did begin that degree combined with arts none of them were of the disposition and had no precedent experience in the family to encourage the persistence with it. As you can guess from this they were not mathematically or scientifically inclined even though they passed these subjects in high school. So yes, they did humanities degrees, one with honours and all with subsequent postgraduate additions all paying their HECS off slowly because they (still) don’t make megabucks.
            This was the way it was in the nineties and maybe just maybe it has impacted on what being in the middle class means.
            But fine, ignore me.

          • margaret says:

            And somewhere I read that Dawkins was a polo playing toff.

          • margaret says:

            Some ad hominem for you all. Dawkins in an interview.
            “HECS was a crowning glory. I dine out around the world on HECS. It’s the most wonderful piece of public policy anyone has ever thought of … HECS allowed university enrolments to grow from 600,000 to 900,000.

            “Students enrol for nothing and pick up the bill later. All these ideas are orphans until a politician decides to do it. What I celebrate, more than anything, is the number of families whose first university graduate was as a result of HECS.

            “What Gough thought he was doing with so-called ‘free education’ was solving the financial aspect but that didn’t address the lack of opportunity for all.

            “Something that dropped out of the vernacular back in the ’80s was the idea of ‘equality of opportunity’ – (in an affected, sneering voice) ‘Oh that’s so yesterday’ they (colleagues and critics alike) would say. ‘We want equality of outcome’.

            “Well how can you determine the outcome? That’s just social engineering. Quality of opportunity should be the driving force forever, where, regardless of circumstances, everyone’s opportunities are equal.”

            Someone slightly less than impressed with HECS was Maggie’s son, Josh.

            Josh and Dawkins’ son Finn are roughly the same age, late thirties, and were brought up like brothers – they even resemble twins in some photos.

            Both boys attended Christ Church Grammar School in Perth and were at university at the same time. At a family dinner one night the normally placid Josh exploded: “What bastard is responsible for this bloody massive HECS debt I’ve got?”
            Haha. Classic.


    • Don Aitkin says:


      ‘much of their distress can be laid at Dawkin’s door’. No, the system was shot, unworkable and full of anger and bitterness. As I said to Art above, these problems should have been dealt with much earlier, but (a) Peter Karmel was wedded to the binary system, and wouldn’t change it, and (ii) no Minister cared very much. All the attention was on schools. A slow but steady move away from the binary system from about 1975 was the right way to go. Of course, it’s always so easy to see what should have been done in the past…

  • spangled drongo says:

    still testing but can’t post…

    • Don Aitkin says:

      SD, are you putting in a number of links? That will kill your proposed comment. I think one is the maximum allowed by the system. Your comment hasn’t turned up in Trash.

  • Gordion says:

    I’m afraid that too many VCs (in Australia and Britain – I have been connected to universities in both) believe that they are emperors (they are imperially rewarded) and surround themselves with courtiers, none of whom will point out that the absence of clothes. Indeed, I feel that the modern Chancellery, though often occupied by people with people who belong in its underground bunker adjoining the Wilhelmstrasse, has parallels with Versailles ca 1788 – who can get into the inner presence chamber, who into the closet, who into the bedroom, with a food taster here, a groom of the stole there (probably deputy assistant principal for sanitation), etc., etc? But I have also been peripherally involved in something where a sometime colleague’s legitimate complaints to a journal editor over unauthorised publication by a former PhD student of material belonging in some sense to the colleague was ramped up into misuse of the university e-mail system and added to some other shonky and shaky accusations against said colleague (who had a large grant but could barely spend it on the project so great was the university’s interference). All of this too was heading for court until a ‘deal’ with the gagging clause and a departure.

    • Chris Warren says:

      When I was working in the public service I dealt with different layers of education management across all sectors and I was somewhat surprised at the growth of any number of pro-vice chancellors and deputy vice chancellors and the churning amongst them. Some of them had responsibilities such as Deputy Vice-chancellor (International) but really all the business could have been dealt with at the Director level.

      The AVCC used to have a contact list of Chancellors, vice, deputy and pro, and it would be interesting to look at various versions over time and see if there was any real growth ahead of the growth in institutions.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        The AVCC became Universities Australia, but probably still has lists of the kind you mention. There was indeed a proliferation of executive positions. It was not all hubris. The Australian Government got out of direct regulation of the universities but insisted that they conform to this or that standard set somewhere else. For example, there seven ‘priorities’ for undergraduate education in the 1990s, and failure to comply with them might mean a reduction in grant. Deciding how best to deal with the priorities meant a good deal of negotiation with deans. Whose job was that? The VC’s? Everything came to his/her desk, and most of these activities had to be delegated. The delegate was working directly for the VC, and therefore had some of the VC’s authority. Hence the growth of Pro and deputy VCs.

        One effect of the Dawkins changes was paradoxical. CTEC was abolished, and with that abolition no one now said how many Law schools, for example, there should be, or who should teach Spanish in Melbourne. So that made the life of universities easier. But then came to the increasing insistence on ‘compliance’, but on what other parts of the Commonwealth system had decreed for all organisations, not just universities, and then compliance with what you said you would do, which meant more fussing around, again, ensuring that you didn’t lose money.

        Old hands could be heard to say that it was all so much simpler when CTEC ran everything, and salaries were determined by courts.

  • bryan roberts says:

    ” the system was shot, unworkable and full of anger and bitternes”

    You’re not a VC now, Don. Not good enough.The present system is also unworkable and full of anger and resentment. You and your ilk screwed up the system, and your pretend piety just won’t wash.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      OK, Bryan, I won’t argue further with you.

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        A more than slightly sanctimonious response, Don. You lived at one end of it, I lived at the other, a fact you don’t seem to want to recognise. The ‘Dawkins’ revolution has not been viewed as an unqualified success, and I seriously doubt that there is more and better research being carried out as a consequence.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Bryan, It wasn’t an unqualified success, and I’ve never said it was. I’ve written to you privately, and am happy to keep arguing publicly when you are ready.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            Don, you say you left the system 16 years ago. I have been in it, continuously, for the past 43 years. It has not been an edifying experience.

  • margaret says:

    margaret’s email address appears when I try to comment.

  • IRFM says:

    Charlie Veron is the ‘father’ of the GAB from his time at James Cook University He has done a lot of work in corals over the years and has now become quite rightly renowned for this great effort. Charlie stood up on national media and said that rising CO2 levels would lead to acids being created with result that the corals of the reef would be dissolved. He, however, neglected to mention that the waters around most coral reefs including GAB operate in the range of pH 7 to 8 quite successfully. This is in the alkaline or basic range and certainly cannot be classed as acidic by any stretch of the imagination. He also neglected to mention that the lowest pH on the GAB is due to fresh water run off along the coast where pH can drop to 5.5. Was the good Professor admonished for his ignorance of water chemistry or did he just toe the party line and get his next grant.

  • margaret says:

    Someone provided some answers when no-one else cared less.


    I do hope the website’s sharing of all our email addresses is not going to be for much longer.

    • margaret says:

      “Glyn Davis brings a new argument to this long-running conflict. If Australia’s public universities are to survive the looming threats of digitally delivered education, globalisation and big capital, we need a new policy framework and new kinds of public institutions. The Dawkins monoculture must give way to a “rich ecosystem of institutional types.” The Australian Idea of a University is about much more than ideas and universities; it is an argument and proposal for reshaping the entire tertiary education system.”

      I would love to have gone to university. I did matriculate but there were others in the family yet to finish school. We were all girls and the world had not opened up for us even in our father’s eyes – to him I was a ‘born teacher’. Lol – nothing could be further from the truth.
      However I respect teachers and have one in the family.

      Oh, I did do a postgraduate certificate in an interest of mine in my forties, online through distance education, essays sent to Deakin Uni and returned with thorough assessment. I enjoyed it. I was working at the time so it was demanding and it cost me about $9K altogether. Upfront fees per unit.

      • PeterD says:

        Hi Margaret:

        You wrote: ” I would love to have gone to university”.

        It’s not too late and it’s so easy these days with online education. I worked at CSU and a guy came in one day, inquiring about doing a Wine Science course. He said: “I’m 64 and have four children but none of them have studied at uni. I’m going to set an example for them.”

        By the way, don’t be deterred by online delivery. My view is that traditional on-campus delivery is best for school leavers who benefit from the normal socialisation processes etc – but for those who have life experience and motivation, the quality of learning can be high.

        You can also study single subjects of interest at the Open University, UNE etc, dipping your toe in the water.

      • Chris Warren says:


        PeterD is right. However another option is to enrol initially as a “non-Award” student in a single unit or two to test the water. This may require upfront fees but only for the single unit(s).

        If this all works out – you can transfer to a formal degree course later.

        Most institutions accept non-award applications much later than degree applications.

        Many years ago, I enrolled in a non-award single unit as late as Orientation Week.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Glyn is probably right. But the real question is how to do this. As I’ve said before, in public policy we never start with a clean slate, but with real institutions and structures that are at work right now. Changing them into something else requires timing, money and a strong leader or mover. Macintyre says that all those ingredients were there when Hawke put all the research and higher education bits (save the NHMRC) into one department, and gave it to John Dawkins. I see no sign of any of them at the moment.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Rafe Champion has picked this essay up, and you can see his take on it and the Comments, at


  • David says:

    So to summarize

    Professor Ridd got a slap on the wrist from JCU for engaging in same ad hominem argument. Then instead of publishing some evidence to support his position he threw teddy from the cot, and decided to file a lawsuit. What a pussy!

    • spangled drongo says:

      And davie can’t possibly understand that coral reefs have been and still are happily existing in warmer waters than our GBR, that bleaching is the norm and that it is up to the bedwetters to make their case [if they have one] in a scientific manner.

      The bleedin’ obvious that Peter Ridd wishes to acquaint him with is far too obscure for our davie.

      • David says:

        SD I am just saying that rather than file a law suit Prof Ridd would have been better served if he published some more argument, even if weak and flawed, like,… yours for example.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Ridd may well have got himself into hot water.

    Trying to contest scientific evidence on coral bleaching by opportunist provocation is not professional.

    He is even misrepresenting JCU’s action.

    JCU says:

    “Any action that has been taken, or may be taken, by the university under the JCU code of conduct would not relate to questioning the scientific content of another academic’s research.”

    Ridd claims:

    Prof Ridd said after seeing photos being used by GBRMPA of reefs near Bowen, his team went to investigate and found a healthy reef.

    “I spoke to journalists about it and I ended up on a trumped-up collegiality charge,” he said.

    This is a clear example of both tunnel vision and attempting to sabotage the work of others.

    Bowen is so far south ( between Townsville and Mackay) that it may well be easy to find examples of healthy zones of reef, but also other zones of damaged reef.

    The reef damage is mapped here: https://tinyurl.com/Reef2016-17

    Ridd seems to be engaging in the same forlorn denialist trickery as several others blighting the internet.

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Ridd seems to be engaging in the same forlorn denialist trickery as several others blighting the internet.”

      You mean like this, blith:

      “Energy and Environment ‘And then we wept’: Scientists say 93 percent of the Great Barrier Reef now bleached”

      I wonder how he managed to find all those healthy photos.

      You’re the one in serious denial, blith.

      Do you only do it for the money??

      Or does it also fit perfectly with your doomsday philosophies

    • spangled drongo says:

      Oh, the science, the science!

      The diligence, the diligence!

      “Australia’s National Coral Bleaching Task Force has surveyed 911 coral reefs by air, and found bleaching on 93% of them.”

    • spangled drongo says:

      D’you think it could be filthy, leftist propaganda that is killing our GBR, blith?

    • Chris Warren says:


    • spangled drongo says:

      This is what you do, blith:

  • Chris Warren says:


    You linked to: “Don Aitkin on the corruption of the universities”

    Are you saying that Australian universities have been corrupted?????

    This seems rather strong and beyond the evidence?

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      Queensland’s corruption watchdog has delivered a scathing review of a nepotism scandal at The University of Queensland, finding a former vice chancellor’s daughter was given a publicly funded placement despite falling short of entry requirements.

      From ‘your’ ABC

    • David says:

      CW, Don does not make allegations, he just links to them.

      Kinda like the Queen not handling money.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Chris, since the headline was not mine, I have no need to explain it.

  • spangled drongo says:

    “This seems rather strong and beyond the evidence?”

    What is it about “…research money has been the token of excellence, and woe betide those who don’t do their bit or, worse, impede those who might be trying to do so” that you don’t understand?

    Poor ol’ blith can’t get his head around the fact that there is a difference between earning money through honest competition [capitalism] and seeing who can tell and sell the biggest, alarmist porkies [corrupt, rent seeking cli-sci].

  • David says:

    Don’t, when you update “A cool look at Global Warming” perhaps you could include a chapter on skeptics who have won money betting on global cooling. That wont take long to write.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    To my surprise, Anthony Watts picked up this essay, and ran it on his website. I didn’t ask and nor did he. But I have written essays for him before, so perhaps he felt I wouldn’t mind. I don’t mind at all.


    • spangled drongo says:

      Can’t blame him for grabbing it, Don. A great essay that very much bears repeating.

      Some good comments, too.

    • David says:

      Don, you (and your acolytes) obviously enjoy arguing that that science in general and climate science in particular, is corrupted by grant money. But as I recall when I pointed out that Professor Curry has filled her boots with climate science grant money, often from institutes which she has been a board member, you got all indignant. I think the technical term is a “glass jaw”

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Since we cannot read what passes for your mind, David, perhaps you could be more specific in your accusations about Judith Curry. Did she fraudulently or improperly accept money, or did she simply win research grants?

        I also note that you ignored the well-known example of corruption at the University of Queensland, and I personally was involved in one instance of plagiarism, and know of another case of fraudulent publication at the University of Melbourne.

        None so blind as those who will not see.

  • spangled drongo says:

    If universities are happy to promote the corruption of climate science, what then does that make them?

    If not corrupt likewise?


  • David says:

    Don slightly old news but it is quite interesting to see the number is skeptics that have lost money betting against global warming.

    Seems Prof Plimer accepted your analysis in 2008 and lost his shirt. Jonova and hubby David Evans have also lost $1000s. So has Maurice Newman.

    When you write your review could you include a chapter on how the mainstream climate scientists who took these bets spent their winnings?

  • David says:

    Apparently there are two types of grant monies. Good grant money that goes to researchers who’s conclusions Don agrees with. And then there is bad grant money that goes researchers who can report a p value.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks, Don for pointing out how the consensuals have to reinforce the consensus.

    “500 women scientists” confirm this:


  • spangled drongo says:

    What Peter Ridd now asks for seems right and reasonable:

    “Marine scientist Peter Ridd has refused to accept a formal censure and gag order from James Cook University and expanded his Federal Court action to defend academic freedoms and free speech.

    A revised statement of claim alleges JCU trawled through private email conversations in a bid to bolster its misconduct case against him.

    JCU had found Professor Ridd guilty of “serious misconduct”, ­including denigrating a co-worker, denigrating the university, breaching confidentiality, publishing information outside of the university and disregarding his obligations as an employee.

    Professor Ridd has asked the Federal Court to overturn the university ruling and confirm his right not to be silenced.”


  • I find it very odd there is no reference to the fact that the 2 thousand km north/south orientated GBR is divided almost equally by latitude 19.7 degrees south (close to the Tropic of Caporicorn) in the mission statements of the JCU, GBRMA, etc. So what you say – well, it is that latitude which is closest to the Sun in our annual orbit around the Sun – known as Perihelion. At Perihelion Earth receives 91 watts/m2 or 6.9% more incoming solar radiation (total at Perihelion = 1421 watts/m2) than is received at Aphelion, 5 million kms away when Earth is most distant. Perihelion occurs on or about January 4, Aphelion on about July 4 very close to the Tropic of Cancer. Perihelion has occurred on January 4 for the duration of this debate, the point vertical to the Earth’s surface moves by a mere 25 minutes a year due to Apsidal precession.

    This is necessarily a short summary, if this information stirs your curiosity and you would like a fuller explanation I guess I will hear from you.

  • […] have written a couple of times about Peter Ridd, here and here. Professor Ridd, a well-published academic whose fields of research include coastal […]

  • […] have written a couple of times about Peter Ridd, here and here. Professor Ridd, a well-published academic whose fields of research include coastal […]

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