Archive for January, 2009


The truth in the saga of Jon Jenkins, former NSW politician and adjunct professor at Bond University, remains unclear. A couple of days ago, Jennifer Marohasy stated that there was “no doubt” he was ditched by Bond University because of the opinions about global warming expressed in his op-ed in The Australian. I took her reporting of the dismissal at face value, but still had reservations about the reasons for it.

But Tim Lambert did a bit of exploring and has questioned whether the termination of Jenkins’ adjunct appointment was as recent as has been made out. Lambert’s suspicion is that Jenkins was reprimanded for claiming a position he no longer held. I think the evidence isn’t clear enough to draw the conclusion for certain; however, Lambert doesn’t seem to be getting much of a response from Jenkins to clear things up.

Meanwhile, Marohasy has restated her certainty about the accuracy of her original report, indicating that it came from a “reliable source”. But she provides no further information – not about the source of the information (Jenkins himself, or someone else?), not about whether there is any documentary evidence, and not about whether any statements support her claim that it was “no doubt” his anti-AGW views that cost Jenkins the adjunct appointment.

For a so-called sceptic, Marohasy doesn’t appear to value providing supporting evidence for her argument very highly. She expects her readers to believe something is true just because she says she is certain it is. Isn’t that the sort of thinking the “warmaholics” are accused of? Of course, some of her commenters had no problem falling into line behind her (“disgraceful”, “debauchery”, investigate Bond University’s funding to find the vested interest!) – but even among her “community” there are surprisingly few who swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

But that’s not to deter Jennifer – she’s at it again today, implying that the controlling hand of Robyn Williams resulted in an interview with Bill Kininmonth being cut from an AM segment about the recently published study suggesting warming in Antarctica. Apparently, Kininmonth’s perspective was included when the segment first aired on Radio National, but his (and only his) interview was edited out of the later broadcast on ABC local radio – and was also omitted from the transcript and podcast. This time, at least, Marohasy reproduces some of the evidence – Kininmonth has supplied the chain of e-mails as he has sought an explanation from the ABC and access to a record of the original RN broadcast (both of which, I would suggest, being things he is reasonably entitled to). There is some suggestion that the editing was for time constraints. But Jennifer injects her own suspicions:

At first blush this has all the signs of ABC censorship in favour of the bias of the science unit.

I guess it might; if you start with an assumption that the ABC and its science unit have a bias, then chances are you’ll interpret anything as reflecting that bias. Except when one of the other contributors to the segment had his explanation misreported to the point of silliness – that kind of thing can just be ignored.

We’ll see whether Marohasy ever sticks at a single case long enough to actually substantiate her claims and insinuations. I suspect she will continue to move from introducing one oppressed voice of reason to the next, never stopping long enough to have to plug the leaks in her story. But of course, all of her efforts are directed toward getting readers to ask that most important question:

Why don’t sceptics get a fair go in the media?

UPDATE: Tim Lambert has a quote from Bond University’s registrar explaining what really happened to Dr Jenkins’ adjunct status – and refuting any claim that he was reprimanded or disciplined. “No doubt” Jennifer Marohasy will issue a retraction any moment now.


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Gone fishin’

I’m in the process of doing loads of work so I can take off for a pleasant weekend getaway tomorrow. No freebie this week; normal posting to resume next week.

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Good on Quadrant for staying upbeat after that hoax debacle – providing an incredibly clever Australia Day list of all the things we hate.

On Australia Day, here is my list of things I hate:

  • People who think you can’t be a patriot without being a nationalist.
  • People who think you can’t be a patriot while talking about our current shortcomings.
  • People who think you can’t be a patriot while talking about the dark parts of our history.
  • People who think you can’t be a patriot while talking about how the country might be improved.

It’s a great country we live in. That doesn’t mean it is perfect, has been perfect or even will be perfect. And on a day that has been designated as the occasion to celebrate our nationhood, some reflection on where we’ve been, where we stand and where we are going is not unreasonable. It also doesn’t mean it’s a day where there is a single definition of who and what is Australian, and who and what is not or un-Australian.

So get over it.

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Do you remember how the 9/11 attacks happened, and then there was an investigation into whether anything could have been done differently to prevent it, and it turned out that the various government agencies hadn’t been sharing intelligence and information very well? And do you remember how George W Bush (“He Kept Us Safe“) fixed all of that, with his Department of Homeland Security and his daily briefings and his general level of awesomeness?

Well, as the Obama administration begins its plans to close Arkham Asylum Guantanamo Bay, it’s discovering just how effectively information is recorded and shared after seven years of Him Keeping Us Safe:


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This is not politics

Sticking a photographer outside the home of a former PM’s daughter, all so you can document her “marriage misery” with pictures of her living alone and leaving her child with the nanny? That’s really sad tabloid journalism. At least save it for those who choose to be celebrities.

Just sayin’.

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A couple of weeks back I (among several others) wrote about Jon Jenkins’ op-ed in The Australian in which he argued against the “warmaholics”. Today, Jennifer Marohasy reports that Jenkins was reprimanded by Bond University following the publication of the op-ed and has apparently had his adjunct status with them revoked.

Now, I don’t know much of the detail of the goings-on – Marohasy doesn’t seem to have much beyond the basic story. And I don’t take pleasure in hearing of anyone losing their job. But it seems plausible that Bond University was perhaps a bit concerned that he was publishing – under a byline listing his affiliation with the university – opinions on a field that was outside his professional expertise? His adjunct position was in virology, not climate science. Maybe they had some concerns about an academic going beyond the boundaries of professional expertise in this case. We would need a statement from them to be sure.

But Marohasy believes she knows what happened. She draws some very strong conclusions – not just beyond reasonable doubt, but beyond any doubt at all:

No doubt he has contravened some rule or other at the University and no doubt this would have gone unnoticed if Professor Jenkins had a more popular opinion on these most politically charged subjects.

As I said, I don’t know exactly what has happened to lead Bond University to take the actions it is reported to have taken. For all I know, she might be right. But on the other hand, she might be presuming to understand and stating a belief that is unsupported by her professional knowledge or the available evidence – rather like Jenkins’ original op-ed, in fact.

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Full coverage of the 2008 Golden Winger Awards for Excellence in Wingnuttery – hosted by George W Bush and “Popcorn Guy”.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, Australia’s lowest honour is announced – and couldn’t have gone to a more deserving recipient.

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