Give it up James Cook University – Even The Guardian Sympathises with Climate Skeptic Peter Ridd

James Cook University professor Peter Ridd. Picture: Cameron Laird

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Dr. Willie Soon – the opportunity for James Cook University to salvage what is left of its academic reputation is closing fast.

Peter Ridd’s academic union is backing him, senior Australian politicians have spoken out against James Cook’s heavy handed actions, and now The Guardian is concerned about what Peter Ridd’s dismissal means for academic freedom.

Peter Ridd’s sacking pushes the limit of academic freedom

James Cook University may have damaged its reputation with a heavy-handed approach to the academic with minority views on climate change and the reef.

Gay Alcorn

Tue 5 Jun 2018 11.59 AEST

I hate to say it, but the sacking of professor Peter Ridd by James Cook University does raise issues of academic freedom. Not simple issues, and ones that can be refuted as the university is doing, but ones that matter nonetheless.

His trouble started in April 2016 when he received a “formal censure” for “misconduct”. It was a curious incident: the university had got hold of an email that Ridd sent to a journalist a few months before. In it, he urged the journalist to look into work Ridd had had done suggesting that photographs released by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority indicating a big decline in reef health over time were misleading.

Ridd couldn’t help a dig: The photographs are “a dramatic example of how scientific organisations are quite happy to spin a story for their own purposes”. The authority, and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies – based at James Cook University –“should check their facts before they spin their story … my guess is that they will both wiggle and squirm because they actually know that these pictures are likely to be telling a misleading story – and they will smell a trap.”

This was enough for the university to censure Ridd on the grounds that he breached the code of conduct by “going to the media in your professional capacity in a way that was not collegial and did not respect the rights of others or uphold professional standards”. It was a warning. Ridd could make public comments but they “must be in a collegial manner that upholds the university and individuals’ respect”.

As a journalist, I find this uncomfortable. He had strong opinions, strongly put, in an area which he had professional interest and expertise. Foolishly, the journalist forwarded the entire email to an unnamed professor, who complained to the university.

James Cook University, for all its worries about its reputation, seems to have diminished its own. As the national tertiary education union’s Queensland secretary, Michael McNally put it a few days ago: “All management have done is to feed a right-wing media narrative that universities are conformist and actively suppress heterodox views on topics such as climate change.

For all the university’s sensitivity about its brand and reputation, you have to wonder if it has damaged its own standing with its strident calls for “collegiality” and its repeated insistence that Ridd stay mute.

The other way would be for academics not to complain about Ridd’s impolite turn of phrase, but to reject his arguments, loudly and with evidence. For Australia’s premier reef research institutions to keep doing good work, and keep explaining it to the public, and to treat Ridd as little more than a thorn in their side. And for the university to put up with their troublesome academic and to not be obsessed with process and its own self importance.

As this has dragged on, that was the way that was lost.

Read more:

James Cook University IS feeding a narrative that universities actively suppress non-conformist views on climate change. The mistreatment of Peter Ridd adds evidence to concerns that other scientists have also been punished for politically inconvenient views.

Frightening scientists into silence by threatening their livelihood every time they say something inconvenient is an attack on science.

I can think of countless advances which only occurred because courageous scientists stood against mainstream thought.

Lives have been saved because of academic courage – one of my heroes Aussie medical scientist Barry Marshall risked his own life to overturn decades of misdiagnosis and misery, by deliberately infecting himself with Helicobacter Pylori to prove ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection.

Peter Ridd’s contribution is no less important.

Farmers in Queensland are threatened with increasingly costly draconian restrictions on farming practices, which are justified as vital to protect the endangered Great Barrier Reef. It is likely some farm businesses won’t survive if those restrictions are tightened further. It is also likely that some farmers in this predicament won’t survive the stress of seeing their businesses destroyed.

If Peter Ridd is right, if the problems with the reef have been exaggerated, then some or even most of these draconian restrictions on farming practices are unnecessary. There is no doubt in my mind that if Peter Ridd is right, his courage will save lives, will contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of countless rural families.

Peter Ridd deserves a fair hearing, not abuse, threat and censure.

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Tom Halla
June 11, 2018 7:19 pm

The Australian greens seem as intent on doubling down on stupid as the American greens.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 11, 2018 7:26 pm

Not at all. Australia greens bring a whole need meaning to doubling down on stupid. We have Bob Brown since the 80’s to thank for a lot of that, and alarmist media.

Reply to  Patrick MJD
June 12, 2018 5:49 am

Interesting COLOUR sprectrum !
The “GREENS” started by a BROWN when in reality they are the “REDS” !
More commonly known as the “WATERMELONS”……………………………………..
GREEN on the outside , RED on the inside and THOROUGHLY SEEDY THROUGHOUT !

Krudd Gillard of the Commondebt of Australia
Reply to  Tom Halla
June 12, 2018 3:24 am

They are the Cultural Revolution people. They must be stopped.

June 11, 2018 7:32 pm

They know they are wrong and backed off out of necessity. No altruistic move here.

June 11, 2018 7:37 pm

In early May 2018 I emailed this letter to the Vice-Chancellor of James Cook University.

In 1983, lecturer Joe Baker and other staff at the University College of Townsville called for short stories from graduates, 21 years after the first students enrolled. (I joined the Foundation class in its second year). My short story is attached.
Now, in 2018, there are press reports of disharmony among JCU staff, with expressions like “failing to act in a collegial way and in the academic spirit of the institution”. Professors Hughes and Ridd are among people named, along with your good self, with mentions of Federal Court action. This is distressing to me as an early Science graduate of JCU. What can be done? Can I help?
My short story, that distant 35 years ago, noted inter alia that –
“We are increasingly turning out students who cannot express themselves well, are poor in literacy and numeracy, are long on emotion, rights and soft cuddly creatures. As a result, Australia grows poorer as the core of people who contribute to national prosperity dwindles and spends more and more time arguing for its existence.”
At its heart, we now seem to have that old conflict between evidence and emotion. Science forever seeks to better our understanding of evidence. Beliefs derail this quest.
If two researchers like Hughes and Ridd differ in important aspects of the evidence they find in the Science, then the solution to this apparent conflict is to determine who expresses the best Science. Clearly, this solution requires a referee with the capability to discern the best Science. Have you found such a referee and set the terms of reference?
Social matters like acting “in a collegial way” must be relegated to minor places or ignored, for they involve belief. Belief is a soft cuddly creature concept, a jungle avoided by most successful scientists that I have known. If you let it influence your management, it can tear the University apart.
The 2018 Federal budget provides funding, described by reporter E. Bagshaw in the SMH 18th April –
“The Turnbull government will deliver the largest single environmental protection package in Australian history by committing half a billion dollars to protect the Great Barrier Reef from climate change and pollution.”
The research portion of this that will report to JCU must be spent on the best science available. This is of concern to me personally, because the little Geopeko team that I helped manage discovered some 13 new ore deposits whose metal sales to date, in 2015 values, is about $ 64,000 million. Much of this has gone to Consolidated Revenue, to be used for such items as payment of academic salaries. In contrast, the Reef research generates very little of tangible value, but potentially high intangible value, so success or failure of the Science is hard to quantify. The useful yardstick of quality, of dollar return on investment, is hard to apply.
How can I help maximise the value of this JCU work? How can we maintain that vital productive core of wealth-generating people? Would you like me to referee some of the science?
Yours faithfully
Geoffrey H Sherrington. (Chemistry major).

The reply is here:
From: Vice Chancellor, JCU
Sent: Monday, May 14, 2018 10:57 AM
Subject: RE: Academic tensions

Dear Mr Sherrington
Thank you for your email to our vice Chancellor, Professor Sandra Harding in relation to this matter.
As it is before the courts, JCU cannot comment further.
Kind regards, (Redacted by GHS) Executive Officer to the Vice Chancellor and President James Cook University

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
June 11, 2018 11:23 pm

Good work, GS. Sad to say, but here in Sweden we have just about the same ‘development’, ‘only’ it is much worse and sinister in terms of that the ‘elites’ – regardless area – are, since the time of Olof Palme, doing their ‘best’ in achieving same hat size for all and everyone. Ie., at present, there is a proposition in our parliament to limit ancient rights of frees press as well as expression, really scary stuff.
Looking forward to learning about the further development ‘down under’.
Brgds from Sweden
//Thomas Jakobsson

Reply to  thojak
June 12, 2018 12:24 am

… doing their ‘best’ in achieving same hat size for all …

Jordan Peterson calls that equality of outcome. He points out that the result will be many broken heads and broken hats. Presumably, many people will also fall into holes because their hats are covering their eyes.

Perversely, striving for equality of outcome seems to produce the opposite effect.

‘A gender equality paradox’: Countries with more gender equality have fewer female STEM grads link

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
June 12, 2018 5:36 am

Geoff, Sadly in the USA we start early. Our education system, once considered the finest in the world, has gone down for decades. In the 1980s Reagan and Carnegie studied our system from kindergarten through graduate school. At the time they said that if the K-12 system had been forced upon us by a foreign power we would consider it an act of war. We did better when many still went to one room school houses. Back in the 80s they still had hope for the university system, but anyone following the news knows how far many universities have declined.

Honest liberty
Reply to  Edwin
June 12, 2018 7:48 am

Are you unfamiliar with Charlotte Iserbyt?
You might want to back track your deference to Reagan on this point. Watch this:

Reply to  Honest liberty
June 12, 2018 10:05 am

One crack pot in a low level post and suddenly Reagan was a failure?

Smart Rock
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
June 12, 2018 3:22 pm

“If two researchers like Hughes and Ridd differ in important aspects of the evidence they find in the Science, then the solution to this apparent conflict is to determine who expresses the best Science”

I submit that you are wrong, sir. The debate should continue in print and whatever electronic media are available, and ultimately, the truth becomes common knowledge. Adjudication is not that much different in kind from developing a consensus. It substitutes one opinion for a coalition of many opinions.

Unfortunately, technical journals are now controlled by the enemy, and an honest debate in print is no longer possible in climate science. As (for example) the debate on the existence or non-existence of mantle plumes or hot spots is, and will continue to be, carried out, without rancour, without personal insults of the grossest kind, and even with a little humour at times.

Smart Rock
Reply to  Smart Rock
June 12, 2018 3:24 pm

The blockquote function isn’t making quotes stand out very well (although the old way was a bit too visually intense)

Pat Frank
June 11, 2018 7:42 pm

Universities have long since demonstrated a pervasive moral cowardice.

Reply to  Pat Frank
June 12, 2018 12:32 am

It has gotten worse since the universities have been taken over by the administrators. link They are a truly disgusting bunch.

michael hart
Reply to  Pat Frank
June 12, 2018 4:20 am

The influence of the notorious Oxford Union King and Country debate of 1933 is sometimes cited as having contributed to the outbreak of war. Though it seems a stretch to me, wikipedia quotes Churchill on the matter, saying,

“Churchill would, after the war, write on how Japan and Germany too took note of the Joad resolution, which altered their way of thinking about Britain as a “decadent, degenerate… and swayed many [of their] calculations”.

It would seem to me that the University certainly didn’t help serve the national cause or the nations citizens.

Reply to  michael hart
June 12, 2018 5:17 am

The older generation always complains about the younger generation. That’s because the younger generation lacks experience. This lack of experience leads them to build castles in the sky. From the debate, we have this example:

Joad also postulated that any invasion of Britain could be defeated by a Gandhian campaign of nonviolence. link

Subsequent events would prove the falsity of that idea.

I am reminded of a quote often attributed to Churchill:

… anyone who was not a liberal at 20 years of age had no heart, while anyone who was still a liberal at 40 had no head. link

One of my professors once opined that people under the age of thirty should not be exposed to philosophy.

Reply to  Pat Frank
June 12, 2018 7:12 am

And…the value of the college education varies widely according to the chosen major. Many grads are burdened with college loans that they can never repay with jobs (if there are any) in their chosen major. My suggestion is that we no longer guarantee these loans and let the lender take the risk. I submit that a lot of these baby-sitting majors will be dropped instanter.

Reply to  jimB
June 13, 2018 5:00 am

Enrollment in the humanities is already falling quickly. link

The problem is that there is big pressure to get some kind of four year degree. That means that kids who can’t get into engineering, or who wash out, end up taking a poor second choice.

A good community college diploma is way better than a poor university degree. Prejudice keeps too many people from getting an education that will set them up for life.

Reply to  Pat Frank
June 12, 2018 10:03 am

One of the biggest downfalls of American education has been the transformation of the ethics of a library into the ethics of a country-club. The definition of “collective learning” has been deformed to such an extent that it now subsumes socializing in recreational conversation, either live or, most often, on mobile communication devices, all of which introduced a level of distracting noise that rapes the minds of people who really understand, appreciate, and are able to use SILENCE as a vital aspect of ingraining detailed knowledge and skills.

Here’s where I describe MY experience:

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 12, 2018 10:08 am

On another site I once visited regurally, when the display software could no longer support reply indenting, instead of “MarkW” it would put “MarkW replying to Robert Kernodle”.

Reply to  Robert Kernodle
June 12, 2018 11:25 am

Sad but not surprising.

“Quiet study spaces for adults and children” is only a partial explanation of the more ‘spiritual’ value of libraries. I have commented before about the diminution to outright loss of libraries in universities and government facilities that were historically dependent on them. Those I know about are from administrative decisions, possibly justified in the fallacy that everything is available on the internet, and even if so, would not remove the basic ‘raison d’etre’ for their essential nature and existence.

It is the beginning of a significant intellectual degradation, the extent of which is yet to be determined. It is a parallel to the decreasing importance of teaching relative to research.

Mary Brown
June 11, 2018 7:48 pm

Not only do scientists who don’t support the “consensus” get canned, there is no chance to ever be hired if there is any inkling that you might challenge the goose that has laid the golden egg. No wonder there is a “consensus”. If you don’t agree, you are taken out and metaphorically shot. This technique worked for Stalin and Saddam Hussein

Reply to  Mary Brown
June 12, 2018 6:51 am

This is perhaps the biggest single problem with government funded research.
That universities will completely gut themselves in order to get more of it.

Reply to  MarkW
June 12, 2018 10:43 am

Eisenhower warned us that govt-funded research would lead us to this point 63 years ago.

June 11, 2018 7:50 pm

Gay Alcorn
Tue 5 Jun 2018 11.59 AEST

”I hate to say it, but the sacking of professor Peter Ridd by James Cook University does raise issues of academic freedom”.

I hate to say it? Well we can see lot from that alone! I’m sure a lot of these intractables hate to say it, but say it they must.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Mike
June 12, 2018 3:36 pm

Yes, I’m sure he figuratively choked on those words of support for Professor Ridd.

June 11, 2018 7:51 pm

You did notice that Gay Alcorn of the guardian was so busy attacking Ridd as a leftard greenie that she tripped over the elephant in the room so much so she was in danger of inserting her head rearly!
She actually said “for academics not to complain about Ridd’s impolite turn of phrase, but to reject his arguments, loudly and with evidence.”.
If she was any sort of real journalist SHE would have actually investigated if his claims were correct, same as JCU and did not check!

Reply to  ColA
June 11, 2018 8:48 pm

How do any of us go about getting good information on this?

Investigative journalism is not really something that exists, at least in the mainstream media.

John McCabe
Reply to  Albert
June 11, 2018 11:36 pm

Well, certainly not in the Grauniad. It was even an object of ridicule 30+ years ago when I was a student; I find it hard to understand how anyone with half a brain still bothers with it.

Reply to  John McCabe
June 12, 2018 1:05 am

I find it hard to understand how anyone with half a brain still bothers with it.

The Grauniad may well be past its expiry date but the fact remains is that it is still here.
As Josef Goebbels said:

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

It seems to work.

Reply to  sophocles
June 12, 2018 6:52 am

The Grauniad is apparently the only think Ivanskinsman reads.

Reply to  John McCabe
June 12, 2018 3:28 am

It tells the faithful what they want to believe is true.

Reply to  John McCabe
June 12, 2018 10:53 am

I read it occasionally when I need to find out what’s the opposite of the truth. Some say that at least it has a good crossword, but the Telegraph crossword is better.

Percy Jackson
Reply to  Albert
June 12, 2018 1:18 am

Albert – what exactly do you want information about? The details of the hearing? Or the court case? The hearing is probably confidential and a private matter between the University and Prof. Ridd. The court case is open and the proceedings are I guess a matter of public record that anyone can view.

And actually investigative journalism only exists within mainstream media. They are the only ones that have the money and resources to do it. And the rise of web-based news sources is slowly but surely destroying it as the profits of traditional media decrease.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
June 12, 2018 4:49 am

Facts about ther reef were what was being questioned; how does a journalist, with all good intentions, get good data on Climate Change? If the very sources a journalist would look to, are, infact, the source of the problem, how can you tell good from bad information?


Reply to  Percy Jackson
June 12, 2018 5:49 am

Hear, hear.
Within a decade, most of mainstream media will have disappeared because most of us want something for nothing “free” – we’re unwilling to pay for the subscriptions that osy for journalists. This includes print, radio, TV, even movies.

At that point, we will only have opinionated blogs with free subscriptions paid by advertising, and Netflix, erc.

Even now, perhaps the only solution is to follow as many contrary views as possible in hopes of discerning for oneself what Truth may be important amid disagreement, opinions and lies.

Reply to  cuzLorne
June 12, 2018 6:57 am

Fascinating, you condemn blogs because they get most of their revenue from advertising, yet you bemoan the fact that your beloved news sources no longer get enough money from advertising to stay in business.

Advertising has always been what has paid the bills for newspapers.

Reply to  Percy Jackson
June 12, 2018 6:54 am

From everything I have seen, the mainstream media gave up on investigative journalism a generation ago. All they do now days is reprint press releases from groups that they agree with.
It’s the web-based news sources that are the only ones that do real investigating anymore. Something you hate, because they keep uncovering news you want to bury.
PS: It doesn’t take a lot of resources to do investigative journalism, all it takes is a desire to do so.

Reply to  MarkW
June 12, 2018 10:19 am

A lot of internet “news” has become cherry picking twitter for opinions the “journalist” agrees with and publishing those. That’s worse than printing press releases.

The trick these days is finding decent news feeds from among the thousands available.

Robert Stewart
Reply to  MarkW
June 12, 2018 10:50 am

About 40 years ago I was employed at a lab on a Pac-12 campus. It was my first exposure to big time collegiate athletics. I presumed that the journalism school would have any number of insightful articles about the campus, if only because there was ample material just in the football realm. But there was much more than that on campus, and I looked forward to my first issue of the campus newspaper. To my surprise, there was virtually nothing authored by local students. It was nothing more than a clip and paste operation based on AP press releases. As time passed, I finally figured out that actually reporting what was happening on campus was a mine field. Even saying nice things about a program could irritate someone. There will be no “Mark Twains” spinning tales, either humorous or investigative, if we must rely on the graduates of this pernicious system.

Reply to  ColA
June 12, 2018 5:59 am

Did YOU SAY a “Gay Unicorn” and James Cook in the same article ??
Or am I simply misreading INTO IT what I want to see ??
I thought that Noah had got RIDD of Unicorns !

June 11, 2018 7:52 pm

If you’re in Australia in July, get along to this:
Bob Carter commemorative lecture “Climate Change and Restraining Greenhouse Gas Emissions” to be given by the Hon. Tony Abbott (former Australian PM and current MHR for Warringah in NSW).
Dr Peter Ridd will attend as an AEF Director
Tuesday evening 3 July 2018
Tickets available from:

June 11, 2018 8:27 pm

Decorum, my good man. If he had chosen words other than the wiggle and squirm variety, there might not have been a problem. But hey, maybe the publicity is good.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Albert
June 12, 2018 3:43 pm

Those are hardly fighting words, let alone enough reason to take away a person’s means of income.

June 11, 2018 8:43 pm

The university doth protest too much, methinks.

Their thin skin is a tell. They know they’re out on a limb and they’re nervous about it. If Rudd turns out to be right, either about the data fudging, or about the health of the reef, history’s judgement will be brutal.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  FrederickMichael
June 11, 2018 9:39 pm


Rudd wasn’t right about anything.

(as a side note, Rudd became PM on the wave of popular support. Kevin ’07 and all that.The public, at time of voting at least, loved him. Anyone remember the media backlash about the dangers of populist movements during that period?)

Frederick Michael
Reply to  Craig from Oz
June 12, 2018 12:21 pm

Oops. Ridd it is.

June 11, 2018 9:23 pm

“The other way would be for academics not to complain about Ridd’s impolite turn of phrase, but to reject his arguments, loudly and with evidence.”

“If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.”

Reply to  lee
June 12, 2018 6:13 am

BUT JCU want the Shylock Solution !
“A pound of man’s flesh taken from a man
Is not so estimable, profitable neither,
As flesh of muttons, beefs, or goats.” Bill Shakespeare ( The Merchant of Venice ).

June 11, 2018 10:01 pm

“The other way would be for academics not to complain about Ridd’s impolite turn of phrase, but to reject his arguments, loudly and with evidence”

The problem is that though they are happy to argue loudly, they don’t have the evidence.

dodgy geezer
June 11, 2018 10:12 pm

The Guardian comments are interesting.

Almost all fall into one of two camps:

1 – Ridd is being sacked for unprofessional behaviour – smearing the University. It’s nothing to do with his ideas (which are wrong).
2 – Ridd is a (naughty word that will get me moderated, so I won’t put it here) so it’s good to see him sacked.

Views appear to have become completely polarised…

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  dodgy geezer
June 12, 2018 2:41 am

You’re missing the comments in support of Ridd, oh wait, they all got deleted.

June 11, 2018 10:41 pm

When an organisation calls itself a “Centre of Excellence”, you know the opposite will be the actuality.
It’s just like in the old days when we had “The German Democratic Republic” and all those other communist countries with names that were the opposite of the truth.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
June 11, 2018 10:57 pm

The archetype being the Holy Roman Empire – it was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  rubberduck
June 12, 2018 2:42 am

Liars Lie.

dodgy geezer
June 11, 2018 10:49 pm

If Mr Eschenbach has not come upon this snide exchange about universities and their allegiances before, I suspect that he may appreciate it. It was occasioned by George I’s donation of the Bishop of Ely’s Library to Cambridge University, about the same time as the Jacobite uprising (1715) against the new Hanovarian King, during which a regiment was sent to Oxford to keep the peace….

The King, observing with judicious eyes
The state of both his universities,
To Oxford sent a troop of horse, and why?
That learned body wanted loyalty;
To Cambridge books, as very well discerning
How much that loyal body wanted learning.

Joseph Trapp

To which a reply came:

The King to Oxford sent a troop of horse,
For Tories own no argument but force:
With equal skill to Cambridge books he sent,
For Whigs admit no force but argument.

William Browne

michael hart
Reply to  dodgy geezer
June 12, 2018 4:33 am

It is little known, even in the town itself, but from 1261 to 1265 there was also a third English University, in Northampton.

But its Royal Charter was revoked when the town didn’t toe-the-line politically during the reign of King Henry III.

It has only been re-established in recent years, and is currently undergoing an extensive building program. Let’s hope we fare better than last time

June 11, 2018 11:37 pm

The other way would be for academics not to complain about Ridd’s impolite turn of phrase, but to reject his arguments, loudly and with evidence.

They could not do that. If you take a look at the basis of “wiggle and squirm” misconduct claim, the Annexure A here

then you can understand how deeply Ridd has collided with the GBR people.

Ridd basically tells they spin knowingly, and spin they do. The fact is so inconvenient that it is understandable that they are trying to find serious misconduct in the way Ridd brought these to daylight. I see Ridd’s behaviour as whistle-blowing and leaking, which is something that good journalism needs.

Reply to  Hugs
June 11, 2018 11:48 pm

In Ridd’s own words here (they are a gem)

Regarding the words “wiggle and squirm” This must be taken in the context of what I was trying to say to the journalist which was about questioning the quality assurance process, or lack thereof, used by GBRMPA and JCU COE to make sure they have got their facts correct. I suggested asking the directors of GBRPMPA and JCU COE what would happen if a journalist went to the supposed location of the 1895 picture.
Would they be able to find coral? Clearly a journalist would likely ask this question if he thought there might be a problem. So if the director of GBRPMA and JCU CCOE were unsure of their facts, they would likely feel uncomfortable (wiggle and squirm) about sticking to their guns and claiming that coral would NOT be found. In other words if they were unsure that they were not telling a “misleading” (i.e. wrong story) and they would think it was a trap. So these are simply statements of how they might react if they had not done the quality assurance. Of course if they were sure, they would not react this way. I therefore think I was justified in trying to ascertain their level of confidence in their work, which would be based on their quality assurance systems (or lack thereof). Despite this I could perhaps have replaced the words “wiggle and squirm” with “uncomfortable”. I would be happy to apologise to Prof[REDACTED]
ver this use of language.

Reply to  Hugs
June 12, 2018 12:53 am

The line of thinking goes like this: A professor is bound to the code of conduct. The code of conduct (as interpreted by the JCU) prevents Ridd from indirectly claiming that certain people might lie.

So, he expressed concern here in this email to a journalist, that a certain person might not be telling the whole truth. This could be a sign of misconduct, but the hard evidence against named people would be hard to get.

Now, when Ridd expresses suspicions to a journalist who should ask questions, he’s accused of misconduct. This is a classic catch-22! You can in certain circumstances do misconduct, because people trying bring them to daylight would be guilty of misconduct!

Oh, you can complain inside the university… and when that looks unpromising (since, for example, there is significant funding received in this way, and the evidence is not clear on who did what), you just don’t have any way to proceed.

(I’m sorry to comment myself even more, but felt the urgent need. EOM.)

June 12, 2018 12:12 am

Good for the Guardian! They have gained my respect.

Reply to  Jeremy
June 12, 2018 4:46 am

Not much with this one.

Did you notice, by the way, that even if Ridd were fired, and that decision held, even in that case we have serious spin using misleading pictures, that could consist of an academic misconduct, from [redacted]’s side.

M Courtney
Reply to  Jeremy
June 12, 2018 10:40 am

Well, at least the Guardian didn’t act as a Green PR and seek to mislead the public deliberately.

Foolishly, the journalist forwarded the entire email to an unnamed professor, who complained to the university.

Do you really think that was a mistake?

If it was a mistake the University would be blaming the “journalist” for putting them in an invidious position.
When there’s mud being thrown it’s thrown everywhere.
Unless someone who could be a target has more mud to throw back.

June 12, 2018 12:32 am

Dissent is not allowed at James Cook University, and neither is science.

June 12, 2018 1:13 am

“… if Peter Ridd is right, his courage will save lives, will contribute to the happiness and wellbeing of countless rural families.”

The corollary of course is that if Peter Ridd is wrong, his well-meaning courage will endanger lives and reduce the wellbeing of countless families. Viewing this stuff through a moral framework is not very useful, as it depends on whether one accepts the consensus position.

If the consensus position is wrong, it’s morally right to oppose it. And vice versa.

Greg Cavanagh
Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 12, 2018 3:23 am

The reef is 2,300 km long and 300km wide. You could not endanger the reef from runoff from Australian soils. No chance, No how, No way. Only those areas in the vicinity of the river mouths get covered in sediment and die from flood waters. And they recover within a couple years.

Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 12, 2018 6:30 am

Eric……Whilst I AGREE with your statement …….. I don’t think that
The CURRENT REEF has ups and downs BUT it always seems to recover.
Crown-of-Thorns-Starfish , bleaching and so on all cause damage
but eventually , having done their worst , they diminish , capitulate and
vanish………until NEXT TIME ! It’s a bit cyclical like everything else !
POLITICALLY……………however , the farmers ARE in DANGER .
Continual community denigration and vilification takes it’s toll !

Reply to  Trevor
June 12, 2018 7:49 pm

Not just politically Trevor. Look at the suicide rate for farmers.

“Let the Cane fields burn.”

Reply to  Eric Worrall
June 13, 2018 2:17 am

Eric, there are tens of thousands of people who’s jobs rely on a healthy reef. Whole communities. So their wellbeing won’t be very good if he’s wrong. And if the reef goes, that probably means the projections in other areas would also come to pass, i.e. “dangerous” global warming would put lives at risk all around the world. Then his “courage” would have ended up damaging people.

My point is, depending on your position on the state of the science, you will see his position as either morally right or morally wrong. So it’s not very useful to look at it in that way. Better to just work out whether the science is right or wrong.

Reply to  Mat
June 12, 2018 10:32 am

Faced with two choices:

1. Do nothing, allow things to proceed as they are, or
2. Take an action which we know will hurt farmers and reduce agricultural production, thus causing rising food prices and possible starvation.

It is clear that the moral choice is to do nothing (the equivalent of “first, do no harm”). The second choice requires a definitive and irrefutable demonstration that the action (and no other action) is required to prevent a disaster.

June 12, 2018 1:34 am

They should rename the James Cook to the Charles Dawson

High Treason
June 12, 2018 3:00 am

What are the climate ramification when the SHTF on academic censorship?

June 12, 2018 4:20 am

I know I repeat this but the GBR is over 2000km long and consists of 3000+ reefs and islands. It is the size of UK and Ireland combined or about half the size of Texas.
It is massive and for sure we need to look at protecting it but the doomsayers just write the whole of it off which is simply untrue from my understanding.
Ridd is talking of the standard of the science and we all should at least give him a hearing.
They treated Bob Carter like trash as well.

June 12, 2018 4:33 am

Apparently reality is a “right-wing narrative”. Who knew?!

Reply to  BallBounces
June 12, 2018 6:59 am

BallBounces……REALLY ? I doubt that YOU are that flexible !
“Apparently reality is a “right-wing narrative”. Who knew?!”
“the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.”
The MARXIST LEFT refuse to accept reality ! They long to live in UTOPIA !
A glorious “la la land “with pink and blue unicorns , where no one feels pain
or fear or has to work or think or have consideration for other people !
Where everything is provided free and abundantly by others !
The Godless , but Biblical Land of milk and honey !
Instant gratification without individual effort or responsibility !
THE RIGHT however realise that NOTHING IS FREE ; that LIFE is full of
pain and suffering and it takes PLANNING and WORK and EFFORT to
alleviate the pain and provide the necessities of life EVEN IF IT MEANS
DESPITE the inconvenience and THE INGRATITUDE !
That’s WHY Marxism stinks and fails and kills hundreds of millions of people
and WHY Capitalism and Free-Enterprise have allowed us to have the best
standard of living that human beings have ever enjoyed !
and briefly…….THAT’S WHY “Reality is a “right-wing narrative”
and WHO KNEW ? ANY ADULT with MORE THAN half-a-brain and
and some knowledge of history ! THAT’S WHO !

Reply to  Trevor
June 12, 2018 8:19 am

Apparently reality is also a healthy mixture of lower and upper case letters!

The Reverend Badger
Reply to  BallBounces
June 12, 2018 12:13 pm


Komrade Kuma
June 12, 2018 4:44 am

“James Cook University IS feeding a narrative that universities actively suppress non-conformist views on climate change.”

Its a bit more than just a narrative.

Ian W
June 12, 2018 4:46 am

James Cook University IS feeding a narrative that universities actively suppress non-conformist views on climate change.

No that is incorrect.
John Cook University is not feeding a narrative that universities actively suppress non-conformist views on climate change; it has taken actual demonstrable action suppressing non-conformist views on climate change. This suppression of non-conformist views is endemic now in all universities despite their mealy mouthed approach to tenure, which has become just a condition of employment rather than what it should be a guarantee of academic freedom.

To be fair John Cook University is probably disinterested in the science; rather it will be concerned over the possible loss of revenue from virtue signalling ignorant politicians. University chancellors and their grant departments would be in fervent support of phlogiston research if it led to research funding.

Reply to  Ian W
June 12, 2018 5:18 am

John Cook University? There’s a horrible thought… 🙂

June 12, 2018 5:35 am

“I hate to say it” but money and hate drives climate advocacy along. Science and science process has nothing to do with it.

June 12, 2018 8:56 am

Sadly having gone public on this, it is unlikely they can now back down for the fear of losing face.
At that level of management, the ability to admit you are wrong is usual to say the least .
Best case on under the cover deal with a pay-off for Ridd , but his is a ‘marked-man ‘ now and all those whose living and professional prospects , if not ideological outlook , are in tune with AGW will steer clear.
It is not about the science therefore Ridd can be 100% correct but that does not matter, it is hard to say of if ever did in climate ‘science ‘ .

June 12, 2018 9:20 am

Of course the real issue is this is an inquisition by University management to protect the GBR pseudo science dogma it is well funded to preach by government, et al.

GBR is millions of years old, comes and goes every ice age, when you can walk to the white cliffs of Cairns. Regional change is normal and whitening likewise. Coral regrows rapidly, elsewhere if necessary. Live coral returns to the GBR for each short interglacial, not long, etc..

And Peter Ridd is unforgivably right. His colleagues were fiddling the science to prove a false point, but the University supported the “on message” liars in their dodgy Polar Bear style picture fraud, rather than the facts of the matter.

Thus reinforcing the obvious fact that “All management have done is to feed a right-wing media narrative that universities are conformist and actively suppress heterodox views on topics such as climate change.” Because that is in fact what they do, and what they are paid to do by the authorities. Not objective science, but the opposite, promoting whatever populist deceit that government believes in and wants promoted as if it is science to suit its purposes.

Government control our axes, that is paid to Universities and hence specify what “unprovable science” is required to be proved with it, and what beliefs undergraduates are to be indoctrinated with to support the profitable messaging for as long as possible. The new science as religion for profit approach of the 21st Century. And self deluding beliefs and corruption turn out to be something hard of thought Australians are suckers for, and their elites great at exploiting, especially when a lot of easy money is at stake. Follow the money/science for profit.

Peter rid exposed the fraud. The Uni mob responded with a hit. James Cook would be spinning………IMO

June 12, 2018 9:22 am

In another field the same conform or leave university decision

Mark - Helsinki
June 12, 2018 9:24 am

But but Guardian journo and pathological Australian serial liar Graham Redfern blamed Ridd for all this mess 😉

June 12, 2018 4:09 pm

Those guys at JCU are going to find themselves one day soon as reviled pariahs in the same way that Kim Jong-un’s regime acquired that exalted status. The planet is fast falling out of love with civilisation-destroying extreme left liberalism. The revolution is well underway across Europe, the US and now even Canada. Australian patriots need to step forward.

June 16, 2018 4:19 am

JCU’s position basically comes down to this: you can’t contradict or criticise another scientist or science organisation privately or publicly. You can only do it in a journal. Anything else is ‘bad conduct’. Welcome to the world of groupthink.

And by the way, this site therefore isn’t allowed either. It’s not a journal, and sometimes contradicts what some scientist somewhere says.

JCU Morons. (Sorry, saying that isn’t allowed either).

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