Thursday, July 11, 2013

More weird conspiracy theories at WUWT

Sou | 1:45 AM Go to the first of 38 comments. Add a comment

I don't intend to delve into the ins and outs and whys and wherefores of the termination of Murry Salby's contract with Macquarie.  Worth noting that Anthony Watts has posted a note from Macquarie University and it appears that he erred in more ways than not carrying out his allotted duties.  He wasn't sacked because of his crazy notions about CO2.

Enough on that.

What this is about is the conspiracy theorising.  This from tallbloke:
July 10, 2013 at 8:27 am  Basically, the university has acted in bad faith from the start. Maybe it’s purpose in offering Salby his position was to thwart his research and make sure his findings were delayed, suppressed and blocked from publication for as long as possible.
Is this a continuation of the Lewandowsky, UWA, Australian Government conspiracy or a different one?


Update for the record (13 July 13 - if one is superstitious about 13; even July could be considered the 13th month of the financial year) - another statement from Macquarie.


  1. Note here is the university's explanation for why they sacked Salby.

    1. I'm not shy:

      "10 July 2013

      Macquarie University does not normally comment on the circumstances under which employees leave the University. However, we feel in this instance it is necessary to do so in order to correct misinformation.

      The decision to terminate Professor Murry Salby’s employment with Macquarie University had nothing to do with his views on climate change nor any other views. The University supports academic freedom of speech and freedom to pursue research interests.

      Professor Salby’s employment was terminated firstly, because he did not fulfil his academic obligations, including the obligation to teach. 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.

      The University took this matter very seriously as the education and welfare of students is a primary concern. The second reason for his termination involved breaches of University policies in relation to travel and use of University resources.

      Read more: http://www.mq.edu.au/newsroom/2013/07/10/statement-regarding-the-termination-of-professor-murry-salby/#ixzz2Yt2su8Kr"

  2. A conspiracy? According to Tallbloke the University did Dr Salby a favor by freeing up his time for more high-quality research.

  3. Look at www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=365852

    Same Murry Salby, then of Colorado getting some incredibly bad ratings and note the comments. Evidence that the man is not a great teacher so the fact that he seems to have avoided students looks a likely reason behind his sacking and not the conspiracies about his denialism.

  4. But if contrarians don't indulge in conspiracist ideation, what is left? Once the fantasies of suppression are dispelled, what remains is a stark reality where contrarian heroes such as Salby emerge as a tiny fringe of mistaken, irrelevant figures, with not a Galileo in sight.

    And that simply isn't acceptable. So reality is denied.

  5. I hadn't really read Salby's self-serving email properly until just now. It appears all over the place. At one point he says that "Presentation of our research was then blocked by Macquarie." but goes ahead with a planned lecture series anyway. Sounds like grounds for disciplinary action but I'm not an expert.

    Then "Obligations to present our new research on greenhouse gases (previously arranged), had to be fulfilled at personal expense." but "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."

    What I can't work out is why Salby went against the instructions of his employers, presumably absenting himself without their consent, paying for the trip out of his own pocket but somehow getting the university to pay the air fare on a trip they didn't want him to make. I might have got that wrong but I know one thing: if I did that sort of thing, I'd find my desk in a black bag out on the street.

    1. I see someone at WUWT came up with a similar analysis. The deniers not only deny they are idea ting a conspiracy but also ignoring the fact that there is a lot missing from Salby's version of events. In fact, I find what Salby says is very cagey, missing out vital detail that would bolster his case. Just give all the facts, Murry, if you are convinced of your case.

      The fact that Monckton is promising to send his gunboats to Botany Bay to sort it out suggests Salby might as well give up. If Monckton was supporting me, I'd go quietly.

    2. oh no another Monckton law suit on the way ? . . .

      has anyone ever kept track of how often that clown has threatened scientists and universities with a law suit?

      Does he still refer to himself as Lord ?
      Catmando, how's the saying go: with friends like that who needs enemies. ;- }

  6. Ah, Victor beat me to the obvious question; why would you go to the trouble of conspiring to tie up someone's research and thwart his every academic effort and then, um, let him go?

    Priceless stuff, and not-at-all-nutty!...

  7. Don't worry, they're busy concocting another theory about the world record high temperature in Death Valley on 7/10/1913. Seems like they can't read the words "in triplicate" at the bottom of the form.

  8. I recently posted on a WUWT thread which accused the EPA of legal harrasment of a coal power plant because the operators did a major upgrade without informing the EPA of any projected change {or lack thereof} in the toxic emissions.

    Others had pointed out that contrary to the initial thread essay it was NOT a matter of GHGs. The emissions under legal control in this case are SOx, NOx and particulates.
    I pointed out that around six people a day die from coal plant pollution and opposing the EPA controls on these toxic emissions which were first put under EPA control by Nixon and Reagan would seem to be in favor of American deaths.

    I had this reply from Willard himself.

    "REPLY:Oh please. Please point to six people, any six people who have on their death certificates “killed by coal plant”. I grew up in a town with a coal fired power plant and I’m just fine. My friends are fine, my relatives are fine. The town thrives still.

    Your assertion is nothing but regurgitated mindless activist talking points with no evidence to back it up, posted by an anonymous coward named “izen” too timid to stand behind his own words with his name.

    Be as upset as you wish. But do show those death certificates before you comment again. – Anthony Watts"

    I have another reply in moderation, but as it does not contain any death certificates with 'coal plant' on them I doubt it will get posted.

    "I know this site disputes elements of the science of climate change, but I did not think that this extends to the basic epidemiology of medical conditions.

    There is absolutely NO dispute, doubt or controversy about the role of toxic emissions from coal fired plants in killing people.
    The basic information is out there for anyone who can read a paper on increased morbidity from environmental factors at Pubmed. It has been known that burning coal is a killer since the London smogs of Dickensian times.

    The assertion that there are no people with ‘killed by coal plant’ on their death certificates and this somehow justifies dismissing the role of toxic emissions in the deaths of thousands in the US every year is perhaps the most egregious and medically ignorant claim I have heard in quite a while. Perhaps you should look up the mortality and morbidity rates for the twon you grew up in, compare it with a similar town without a coal fired plant and look at the increased rates of cardiovascular disease and death, respiratory problems and rate of malignancies. As any medic will tell you the health impacts are obvious and trying to d… reject the existence of such impacts on human health from toxic compounds released by coal burning is profoundly wrong."

    I know WUWT deny climate science, but this extends it to basic medical epidemiology. Almost half of the mercury in our bodies comes from burning coal. The death rates near, and far from coal plants are clear-cut. It is not a mindless activist talking point to claim that coal burning kills, it is the long term established finding of good biological science.

    Clearly in an effort to protect fossil fuel use it is not just climate science that is denied.
    Fundamental medical findings dating back to the observed effects of the 19th century London smogs as well as the effects in China seen today are also dismissed.

    Denial of the damage to health from coal plants is not a contrarian position in the face of a large consensus. It is flat denial of objectively observed factual health events.


    1. The next thing you know they'll be denying the health effects of smoking. Oh wait...

    2. There you go. Once again, reality is unacceptable, so reality is denied. They really are disturbing, the Watties of this world.

    3. Williard's ridiculous challenge "Please point to ... any six people who have on their death certificates 'killed by coal plant' " just serves to underscore how far from reality these deniers operate. I got into debate with him once regarding changes in the weights given to temperature stations somewhere. He simply could not grasp the fact that you had to weigh stations differently because of the different sizes of the different geographical areas the various stations covered. He insisted something sinster was going on. I was completely stunned by his complete lack of common sense in how one would go about normalizing data. Thank you, Sou, for distilling WUWT's nonsense into this blog and saving the rest of us from becoming nauseated by having to read it ourselves. You deserve a combat pay. -- Dennis

    4. Tony occasionally reminds us that he lost his parents to tobacco-related illness. Would it be insensitive to enquired whether their death certificates read "killed by cigarettes"?

      What a Doofus.

  9. If Mr. Watts believes anyone who is "too timid to stand behind his own words with his name" is undeserving of respect, why does he not make similar objections to anonymous individuals who agree with him?

  10. As a quick glance at the blogroll will reveal, the whole Salby thing has recently got just that bit more interesting...

    1. I thought things were over for Salby once MU revealed that he had shirked his teaching duties as well as producing only two papers in 5 years. For a long-term academic that's extremely unsatisfactory performance, and it would be enough to show him the door with no recourse to appeal.

      John Mashey's forensic revelations render Salby's circumstance even more dismally tragic than it was previously. Salby should have just shut his mouth from the outset and slunk away...

      And Watts, Codling, Marohasy et al haven't exactly covered themselves in glory either.

      As with the whole denialist industry at large, it's all very sad.

      Bernard J.

    2. One could scarcely find a better illustration of the *cough* 'skeptical' mindset than that thread at Jo Nova's. It's something straight from the world-beyond-satire...

  11. Oh, and, look, JM even provides links to another 'hilarious' Josh cartoon, featuring yet another stunningly incisive and not-at-all-samey caricature.

    1. Maybe Josh can make another one about the NSF affair? That might actually be funny! All he needs to do is to change the text in the old one!

  12. This is also great because Salby has been caught doing exactly what the denialists accuse "the team" of doing: profiting personally from research funding. Do you think they'll notice?

    If I was on the run from adverse findings of that severity in my home country, I would have thought it might be wise to be very, very cooperative with my employers in my new country. He's going to have to return to the USA now, and the IRS will be waiting for him ...

    1. He comes across as untrustworthy. Looks increasingly like he ran to Australia to avoid the possibility of a few days in court - sounds like what he did at Colorado was fraud but I'm no lawyer so could be mistaken - and his behaviour at Macquarie was petulant. I watched one of his talks on YT and have to agree with the students who rated him while at Colorado. He is boring, leaves lengthy pauses, humourless and his language was dull. And, of course, he is free to carry on his research and lectures anyway, just without a university affiliation.

    2. > This is also great because Salby has been caught

      Yep, but let's remember the limited evidentiary value of one bad apple.

      Now, what is legitimately great is how all these other denialists are standing up for him...

  13. - KR

    Keep in mind that Salbys personal/professional behavior is not relevant to the science - it's very relevant to his complaints about Macquarie (in that he has been shown to have a history of poor teaching, of fraudulent grant-mining, of being fired). But not to his science.

    That, his science, demonstrates its absurdity all on its own.

    [ He claims warming releases CO2 from the oceans, not our emissions (i.e., a variation on the "it's not our fault" myth) - with 150 ppm from 0.8 C warming since the Industrial Revolution that requires a 180-190 ppm/C relationship. But CO2 variations over the ice age, with 5-6C temperature change, are about 60 ppm, a 10-12 ppm/C relationship. Hmm... time for a new hypothesis, Dr. Salby; those pesky facts disagree. ]

    1. Well, the honesty/dishonesty aspect is somewhat relevant, I think. It shows that he at least is capable of scientific fraud. Although, to commit scientific fraud you would first have to publish...

  14. Was Salby "lured" to AUstralia?
    1) There's a 1999 paper:
    1999 paper by Andrew C. Fusco, ML Salby,
    Interannual Variations of Total Ozone and Their Relationship to Variations of Planetary Wave Activity.
    Received March 9, 1998, revised April 12, 1998
    Fusco then at Harvard (1998-2003)
    Salby then at Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia (but permanent = CU)

    I think that was his first sabbatical.

    Jan-August 2007, he was on sabbatical in Australia, but I don't know where. On 01/03/07, he sued State of Colorado ^ Bill Ritter for $275K, because he objected to a 2005 ruling on appeal of his earlier divorce settlement. Cited 4th, 5th and 14th amendments.
    Case dismissed by May 2007, because he refused to show up or cooperate with court. Sound familiar?

    1. "Jan-August 2007, he was on sabbatical in Australia, but I don't know where."

      Met Bureau, Melb. On 2 May 2007, he gave a talk at Melbourne Uni, advertised thus:

      Professor Murray Salby, Bureau of Meteorology
      Research Centre, University of Colorado, USA
      Interannual Changes of Stratospheric Temperature
      and Ozone: Relationship to Changes of the Global
      Circulation (2 May)

    2. Thanks, that is useful.

  15. I was surprised to learn that he'd been debarred by the NSF in 2009 after an investigation which found he:

    submitted significantly overlapped proposals to NSF and another federal agency;

    received compensation from NSF awards substantially in excess of approved budget amounts;

    overcharged NSF awards for indirect costs on a subcontract, and failed to disclose the subcontract to NSF;

    received payments for effort that he documented with questionable time and effort reports;

    and failed to comply with his University's conflicts of interest and financial disclosure policy.


  16. David: I assume you've checked out:

    by now, but if not, you might look at the claims in the court cases, such as Salby's against CU in Federal court, the affadavits and motion for summary judgment (the 19-pager).
    See also the one against state of Colorado in 2007 because he didn't like the court ruling in 2005.

    Some people in the blogosphere just do not bother to think or check. I'd never payed any attention to Salby, given that the non=anthropogenic claims was so silly, but when this popped up, it was so weird that my immediate thought was:

    1) He's been at Macquarie ~5 years. Where was he before? That doesn't take long to find.
    Oh, he was a tenured professor @ UC Boulder for ~20 years.

    2) What?! UC Boulder is pretty strong in this turf, it has a long-established graduate program in this:
    (although oddly, Salby only supervised 2 PhD students (196 & 1997) 1993-2007.)

    NCAR is just up the hill, there are often collaborations. If one is doing atmospheric research, Boulder is one of the better places in the world, and the area is not such a bad place to work.

    Now, sometimes highly-rated long-tenured professors get "lured" away (as Jo Nova seemed to think)) or just decide they want to be somewhere else and can get a really good job there. For example, Naomi Oreskes has been at UCSD for 15 years (a very good school), but starts next Fall in History department that might be higher ranked, i.e., Harvard. CU to Macquarie didn't seem like that kind of move.

    It only takes a few searches to uncover a bit of the back history ... and a few other people did, but many did not.

  17. By the way, for those of us who assemble chronologies, one finds:

    “Salby, M, 2009: Fundamentals of Atmospheric Physics . International Geophysics Series, Academic Press, 2nd Edition (In Preparation)”
    Funny, he claimed

    “6. During the protracted delay of resources, I eventually undertook the production of a new book – all I could do without the committed resources to rebuild my research program. The endeavor compelled me to gain a better understanding of greenhouse gases and how they evolve. Preliminary findings from this study are familiar to many.”

    But it seems he originally expected the book to be done in 2009, instead it was published 01/16/12.

  18. I'm analyzing the propagation of the story through the blogosphere, especially the bozo section.

    Of course, there are sites, like Jo Nova's, WUWT or Bishop Hill that get plenty of comments and people reblog them.
    Finally, the graphs tend to have arcs that end at sites where people mostly reblog, without much added content, are clearly eager for people to read and comment, but few comment, anye.

    One I ran across is a guy in Brisbane ... who seems to ahve about 20 blogs, listed at lower right.

    He reblogs Powerline, http://www.webcitation.org/6I9CHM2aN, which calls Tim Flannery a thug, and that ius written by Steven F. Hayward, who is: http://www.desmogblog.com/steven-f-hayward

    So, an AU story gets picked up by an American thinktanker (PhD in American Studies), who writes on this, and gets picked up by Brisbane guy. Never say there's a lack of international cooperation. :-)
    Of course, GWPF reblogged the story in The Australian, etc.

  19. Help from Oz? I can probably dig this out, but maybe someone can save me time.

    As far as I know, the only mainstream news outlet to cover this was The Australian, i.e., Graham Lloyd's article:

    It is nontrivial to check dates/times on stories/blogs (webservers tend to give local times, aren't necessarily located in same timezone as blog owner, daylight savings time or not is messy, half-hours are messy, Australian time zones are interesting.)
    But, that piece had one more ambiguity,as it was dated:
    July 12, 2013 12:00am. Argh.
    SO, was that a minute later than July 11, 11:59pm or a minute after July 12 11:59pm?

    I.e., did people in Oz see it in AM of 12th or 13th?

    (Now, if only people used seconds since Jan 1, 1970, uniformly, or even just GMT, life would be easier :-))

    1. John, The Australian publishes its lead stories at midnight. If you think of it as one minute after midnight on the 12 July Australian eastern time (Sydney/Melbourne time). It usually posts a flurry of tweets announcing each main story.

    2. To clarify - the days edition would have been the 12 July morning edition but on the internet it comes out at midnight before the morning edition.

  20. Thanks, but in investigating further:

    Here is Morano, July 12, 2013 10:26 AM (US East Coast), and he got it from GWPF. This was the 7th post in a few days on Salby, as he seemed to be watching and copying quickly.


    July 12, 12:01am Sydney = (if I've done this right, ignoring Daylight Savings)
    July 11, 02:01pm GMT (GWPF) =
    July 11, 09:01am US EST (Morano)

    That implies that Morano (and probably GWEPF) waited a day, which is possible.
    Alternatively, July 12 12:00am could have meant July 12 11:59am, in which case Peiser could hjve gotten it in UK afternoon of 12th and Morano and hour and a half after Lloyd's article.

    This is not a big deal, interesting mostly to calibrate propagation speed.

  21. You might enjoy my comment:

    Jo Nova wrote something really silly, before I noticed it, then edited it away later. Fortunately, Watts coped the original version and posted it.


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