Has Murry Salby passed his Salby date?

I really only wanted to create this post so that I could use the title. 🙂 But perhaps I should flesh it out a little bit.

People who do not follow climate change news will be wondering who is Murry Salby. Murry Salby was a professor of Environmental Science at Macquarie University in Sydney and also a fairly vocal opponent of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). It has just been announced that he was sacked by Macquarie University in May this year.

It is very hard for an academic to get sacked from a University so naturally this is quite big news. It has been followed by the usual squawking from well-known opponents of AGW who argue that he was sacked specifically to silence his views on climate change. Was he?

The University has issued a statement denying this is the case.

Professor Salby’s employment was not terminated in any way related to his views on climate science, but rather due to misconduct in two areas. The first was his repeated refusal to teach, over a sustained period of time, in contravention of his contract of employment.

The second reason was inappropriate use of University resources. Professor Salby travelled to Europe during a time when he was obliged to be at the University against direct, written instruction. Furthermore he used a University credit card to pay for the flights through an unapproved agency. This is against University policy.

Not bothering to turn up for lectures is a good way to silence yourself in my view.

This is not the first time Salby has gotten into trouble with his employer. Prior to his appointment at Macquarie, Salby was employed by the University of Colorado where he was the subject of an investigation by the National Science Foundation. Some of the allegations against him include misuse of grant funding, fabrication of time sheets, failure to adequately disclose conflicts of interest and deceptive conduct. Salby also tried to sue the University of Colorado. I wonder whether he’ll try the same with Macquarie?

For more information see Graham Readfearn’s article Climate Sceptic Professor Sacked From Australian University Was Banned By National Science Foundation For “Deceptive Conduct”.

27 thoughts on “Has Murry Salby passed his Salby date?

  1. I have to ask why Macquarie employed this Murry, with his history.

    Sometimes the “Ivory Tower” syndrome precludes certain academics from working within the business/purpose structures of the university system, particularly with teaching, when it does not suit personal agenda… similar to politicians who reserve their right to use of funds, time, equipment, authority and so forth, in order to pursue personal agenda/opinion/financial authority…all the while refusing to accept that their very position demands conformity to the system… which is essentially why there are protocols, balances and checks, rules, regulation, transparency and a framework in which to operate.

    Perhaps a bit off topic but certainly in this instance it seems that the two paradigms you hilight, need to be examined simultaneously.

    1. I have wondered how he got the job at Macquarie in the first place too, given the history. I can only assume that they didn’t know anything about it.

    2. Still shocked and appalled to think you, Rachel, would condemn Salby so readily without presenting his side of the story.

      1. I’m not condemning anybody.

        Did he fabricate time sheets, fail to disclose conflicts of interest or misuse public grant money? I can’t be sure but I’m not going to contact him to verify – citing my source should be sufficient here – which is why I used the word “allegation”.

        Did he turn up for his lectures? I can’t be sure on that one either but the University claims that he did not and unless he had a doctor’s note, I can’t imagine his side of the story would make much difference. Most people who fail to turn up for work risk losing their job.

        Things are not looking good for Murry Salby.

      2. If it transpires that the allegations against Salby are false and that he has a very good explanation for failing to turn up to work then I will happily add this information to my post.

      3. Well, Rachel, still waiting for you to mention that George Mason University cleared Senator Wegman….

      4. It turns out that I have previously written that the statistician Edward Wegman (he’s not a senator as far as I’m aware), plagiarised in a paper published by the journal of Computational Statistics and Data Analysis. This statement holds true and the paper in question has been retracted. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167947307002861

        As I have said before, I do appreciate any mistakes I might have made being brought to my attention, but I kindly ask that you check your facts first.

  2. Quite a remarkable story. I take no pleasure in someone losing their job, but he does seem to have played fast and lose with the rules (to put it politely) and appears to have done so so as to benefit financially. Makes you wonder what motivated him to present highly questionable science to rooms full of climate skeptics.

    1. It certainly does point in that direction, especially with his failure to adequately disclose conflicts of interest and compensation from outside.

  3. It does seem odd that Macquarie hired Salby, but there may be a timing issue. The National Science Foundation concluded its investigation of him in Feb 2009, http://www.nsf.gov/oig/search/I06090025.pdf. He had already resigned from Colorado by then and perhaps Macquarie hired him before news of the investigation became public.

    Google Scholar finds about 1700 results for “salby ml” not including citations by others. On the surface he seems to have an extensive scholarly publication record and a substantial number of co-authors so he probably found some respectable referees when he applied to Macquarie. I have no idea as to whether Macquarie asked Colorado but I gather there is a tendency in the US to not give unfavourable references for fear of being sued.

    1. Yes, you are right. The investigation was not finished until after his appointment to Macquarie and it must have been kept under wraps for quite a while because as far as I’m aware it has only just gone public now.

  4. The fact that the university has made public the reasons for the Gentleman’s sacking, is pretty clear indication that there is veracity in the “allegations”. No University would embark on such a public statement without legal counsel nor without evidence and substance.

      1. What Salby has to say – the other side of the story:-
        “In an email to friends obtained by The Australian, Murray Salby has outlined a five-year struggle with the university, which he said had denied him agreed computer resources to complete his controversial research.
        Professor Salby has written highly critical reviews of the work of the Climate Commission, most recently rejecting the much publicised “angry summer” report in an article in The Australian.
        Supporters of Professor Salby said the affair raised questions about the culture of climate science and the difficulty many had accepting alternative views.”

      2. Has he got an explanation for failing to meet his teaching obligations? And what about the charges laid against him by the National Science Foundation in the US?

      3. The problem is that Murry Salby makes some incredibly fundamental mistakes. There are a few things in science that are regarded as absolutely crucial. Some examples are conservation of energy, conservation of momentum, conservation of mass. Murry Salby’s argument about CO2 rises being natural appears to completely violate conservation of mass. We’re adding a huge amount of CO2 to the atmosphere. This is indisputable. Murry Salby then argues that this disappears and somehow at the same time a natural process is releasing CO2 so as to increase atmospheric concentrations by 2 ppm per year. Climate science doesn’t need to accept these views. As it stands, any credible scientist will reject them on the basis that they violate one of the fundamental laws (conservation of mass). If Murry Salby wants them to be considered, he only has two options. Show that his ideas about atmospheric CO2 rises does conserve mass, or show that the fundamental law that conservation of mass is required is wrong (which would completely change all of science). Without doing one of these two things, mainstream climate science can quite justifiably ignore what he says about atmospheric CO2 concentrations. There is no requirement for science to simply accept something different. The requirement is that those proposing something different show that their ideas at least satisfy the fundamental laws.

      4. I just saw your comment in my spam folder, Wotts. This has been happening quite a bit recently and I’m not sure why. Sorry about that.

        Thanks for the info about Salby’s science. I don’t feel I can comment in that regard because I don’t know enough about what he’s saying. I did try to watch one of his talks online, a recent one from Germany but it was painfully boring.

      5. I read somewhere that Selby claims he was only hired to do research but I suggest we all wait and see what happens next.

  5. Try the longer version,:
    http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/07/12/murry-salby-galileo-bozo-or-p-t-barnum

    Investigation of Salby really started in 2005, he was under pressure by 2006, took a sabbatical Jan-August 2007 … by odd coincidence in Australia. One has to wonder has to wonder if he was exploring a move, since he started at Macquaire in 2008.

    In general, universities are especially loathe to talk about in-progress actions to anyone else, for fairly good legal reasons. Macquarie may have though they were getting a start, and didn’t check with CU (“Hey, we want to hire this guy away from you…’) but if they did, CU may not have been able to tell them much.

    The NSF thinks he lied a lot, and their closeout report in 2009 shows that they were *peeved* (I’ve read a lot of these things). Although people usually do not go to jail for cases of this size ($300K plus problems), sometimes they do, as they sometimes rise to felony, but by the time NSF had completed its case, Salby was long gone.

    NSF and IRS have to prioritize cases, but if Salby had stayed in US, he might well have faced jail time.
    He also blamed all this on his long-time coauthor. NSF disagreed.
    Compare his Federal complaint against CU with those against Macquarie.

    1. I’m delighted to have John Mashey comment on my blog if indeed you are the John Mashey who uncovered plagiarism in the Wegman report.

      Thank you for clarifying some of the details regarding Salby’s appointment. Great article in Desmog too.

      1. Thanks, but note that the first plagiarism discoveries were by Canadian blogger Deep Climate. I found more later.

    1. John,

      What is the outcome of the Wegman report? Does it still stand despite all the problems? I’ve had it thrown at me on numerous occasions as proof the hockey stick is invalid despite all the evidence to the contrary.

      1. Rachel: the Wegman Report has long since been discredited in science, but see the FOIA FACTS 1-4 posts I mentioned.
        Put simply, George Mason has erected a castle wall around Wegman and has so far ignored numerous well-documented allegations that in most schools would have led to serious actions. It may or may not be a coincidence that key parts of GMU are controlled by the Koch brothers. Again, read FOIA Facts over at DeSmogBlog.

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