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Did James Cook University Finally Get “Ridd” of Him? An Interesting Case to Follow

Sarah Chaffee

Peter Ridd

Remember Peter Ridd, the scientist who had studied the Great Barrier Reef for 30 years and spoke out against those who said it showed evidence of global warming? I wrote about his case in March.

Well, he used to be the head of the Marine Geophysical Laboratory at James Cook University in Australia. Then James Cook University fired him.

They issued a public statement on May 20 to tell everybody why: “His employment was terminated by reason of his repeated refusal to comply with the University Code of Conduct and the repeated disrespect he showed for the University as a senior employee.” 

Not everyone is buying it, though. Australia’s Assistant Minister for Science, Zed Seselja, spoke out in favor of Ridd on Sky News. You can watch it here. It’s a stirring call for freedom in science! 

When it comes to controversial scientific issues like evolution and climate change, pushback against scholars is far from unknown. Just look at the stories on the Free Science site. Biologist Richard Sternberg allowed an article that supported intelligent design in the peer-reviewed scientific journal he edited. As a result, he lost access to specimens and faced a hostile work environment. Scott Minnich‘s testimony on his own lab experiments in a court case involving intelligent design raised hackles at his university. Mathematician Granville Sewell wrote a technical article on unguided evolution that was withdrawn from a scholarly journal without notice. There are many more cases.  

People who want open discussion to win out are rallying around Ridd to help him fund a court fight. This will be an interesting case to follow.

Image: Zed Seselja on The Bolt Report, Sky News (screen shot).