Disenchanted climatologist Judith Curry resigns from Georgia Tech

Dr. Judith Curry

Dr. Judith Curry

Effective January 1, I have resigned my tenured faculty position at Georgia Tech.

Before reflecting on a range of things, let me start by answering a question that may have popped into your head: I have no plans to join the Trump administration (ha ha).

Technically, my resignation is a retirement event, since I am on the Georgia State Teachers Retirement System, and I need to retire from Georgia Tech to get my pension (although I am a few years shy of 65). I have requested Emeritus status.

So, I have retired from Georgia Tech, and I have no intention of seeking another academic or administrative position in a university or government agency. However, I most certainly am not retiring from professional life.

Why did I resign my tenured faculty position?

I’m ‘cashing out’ with 186 published journal articles and two books. The superficial reason is that I want to do other things, and no longer need my university salary. This opens up an opportunity for Georgia Tech to make a new hire (see advert).

The deeper reasons have to do with my growing disenchantment with universities, the academic field of climate science and scientists.

A deciding factor was that I no longer know what to say to students and postdocs regarding how to navigate the CRAZINESS in the field of climate science. Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment — funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, professional recognition, etc.

How young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and it often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide (I have worked through these issues with a number of skeptical young scientists).

When I first started down this new path in 2010, I published papers that could be categorized as applied philosophy of science (e.g. uncertainty monster, etc). This seemed to be a path towards maintaining academic ‘legitimacy’ in light of my new interests, but frankly I got bored with playing the game. Why go to the extra effort to publish papers, wrestling with reviewers who (usually) know less than you do about your topic (not to mention their biases), having to pay to get an article published some months in the future, so that maybe 100 people will read it? Not to mention the broader issues related to coping with the university bureaucracy, government funding, etc.

Once you detach from the academic mindset, publishing on the internet makes much more sense, and the peer review you can get on a technical blog is much more extensive. But peer review is not really the point; provoking people to think in new ways about something is really the point. In other words, science as process, rather than a collection of decreed ‘truths.’

At this point, the private sector seems like a more ‘honest’ place for a scientist working in a politicized field than universities or government labs — at least when you are your own boss.

Full post by Dr. Curry

Comments (7)

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    Amber

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    Congratulations Dr. Curry !
    Can imagine the conflicting issues you and other scientists contend with .
    Hopefully the freedom will allow you to enjoy your chosen field again
    as you see fit .
    Your contribution in light of the politics and pressure to shut out parts of your
    moral/scientific convictions is even that more remarkable .

    Look forward to seeing your work and your insight after you have some down time .

    Years ago my father retired from running a business for decades and about a year
    later he was driving down the Hi -Way when he felt something come over him and he decided to pull over to the side of the road . After a few minutes he realized the feeling he was experiencing was that he was happy .
    I hope you don’t have to wait that long .
    l

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    Get Real

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    One former academics lament in OZ is that universities have simply become day care centres for unemployable adults.

  • Avatar

    Mjw

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    Well, there is a slamming indictment of the scientific establishment.

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    Larry Brown

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    Dr. Curry, I am an AE from GT in 1969. Looking forward to your continued work to speak out and clarify the science and engineering as it relates to (as the late Carl Sagan might say) “elementary earth hygiene”! Good for you. Celebrate your new freedom and Happy 2017!

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    Captain Dave

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    Nonetheless, Dr. Curry, I am sure that Mr Trump would love to have you on his staff.

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    Hdw

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    Has been amazing that the main tool of science, the scientific method, gets laid aside when dealing with global warming. The reason? The hypothesis of the 97% would not be upheld and the dominoes would fall.

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    Lewis F.

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    Your experience plays out on countless campuses and academic settings throughout the country every day. I’ve been teaching at a community college since 1989 and have fully mastered the learned art of pretending to agree with ideologues and their left-leaning orthodoxies, global warming or climate change included. I lead two lives, the one I front to appease the statists, collectivists and big-government devotees at my college and hence earn my salary and feed my family, and then the “real me” (Christian, capitalist, constitutionalist throwback) outside that supercilious pseudo-intellectual setting. The tragedy is not so much that the lefties call the shots (hire and fire), but that the once magnificent idea of a place where all could come gather and reason together has been abandoned. Meanwhile, academics of all kinds, especially science, are taken less seriously and risk gaining the label of caricature.

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