[Update 2019/04: James Cook University professor Peter Ridd's sacking ruled unlawful.]
There's an Orwellian article in the Graun wherein the "University" that sacked him denies doing so for "his fringe views on climate change or for his rejection of the scientific evidence linking human activity to degradation of the Great Barrier Reef" and staunchly defends his "right to make statements in his area of academic expertise" (my bold). I'm sure the bit I bolded was just a slip of the tongue, after all this isn't a subject that they've thought out carefully, so you can expect rough and off-the-cuff comments: they didn't mean to imply that his academic-freedom-protection was so narrow, oh goodness me no indeed not.
So he has academic freedom, except - of course - that academic freedom is subject to "a code of conduct that we would expect all our staff to stick to, to create a safe, respectful and professional workplace". Which is another way of saying no, he does not have academic freedom, if he says something the bureaucrats don't like. That's not the end of the Orwellianity though, because after he was first censured, "Against the university’s instructions, Ridd later spoke about the disciplinary proceedings". Good heavens! The very idea that information about secret tribunals should be leaked is abhorrent. But, because he is a "bad" person the Graun toes the party line.
But what about the Great Barrier Reef and coral bleaching in general?
The context for the fuss is PR's views about the GBR and coral bleaching. This is a subject about which I know nothing, so if you want informed commentary on the issue I suggest you go elsewhere.
Consider Great Barrier Reef's five near-death experiences revealed in new paper. Sounds scary? Perhaps not. Anything that can have five "near death" experiences and not die is unlikely to be quite as close to death as you thought. PR's viewpoint is expounded at length in The Extraordinary Resilience of Great Barrier Reef Corals, and Problems with Policy Science. Or there's his "background" to the case. That contains (twice) the statement that "Science is in the midst of a “Replication Crisis” in which high powered replication studies are finding flaws in around 50% of recently published important research". I'm dubious about that, and he doesn't seem to feel any obligation to provide any reference for it - perhaps it goes unquestioned at the dinner parties he goes to.
Update: the Graun has managed to publish Peter Ridd's sacking pushes the limit of academic freedom, by Gay Alcorn. It is hedged, and the headline is bastardised, but it covers their backs: if things get bad later they can point to this and say they did stand up for academic freedom after all. Unlike my commentators.
* FFS: an interesting article by la Curry. What is the world coming to? Though to be fair the interesting words are not hers, they are by Pielke Jr and Nordhaus.
* The passionate state of mind is often indic-ative of a lack of skill, talent or power.
* PC Hipsta on fracking.
* Can Universities Lawfully Bully Academics into Silence? by Jennifer Marohasy. Not usually my favourite source, I'd love to link to someone from the Light Side reporting this, but they all seem to be unaccountably silent. Isn't that odd?