Coppedge vs. JPL – discussion thread

| 101 Comments

It looks like the trial in Coppedge v. JPL has finally started after many, many delays. The Discovery Institute appears to be attempting to milk it and spin it for all it’s worth – and of course they are accusing the “Darwinists” of doing this. The reality, though, is that we don’t know anything more than what can be gleaned from the news reports and DI propaganda (and the court filings, if anyone is brave enough to dig through that tedium), and the various evolution folks have said relatively little about it as a result. JPL hasn’t released very much information – probably a good plan. But links, discussion, etc. welcome in this thread.

101 Comments

Assuming this isn’t settled before a decision, I would not be surprised if the court finds that Coppedge was harassing coworkers, neglecting his real job, and being insubordinate when called on this; that JPL was well within their rights as employers to fire him based on workplace conduct, and that their decision was not based religious proclivities. I would be very surprised if any significant complaint of Coppedge’s relevant to the idea of religious persecution was found to be accurate.

But we’ll see.

Remember the case with that Texas teacher in the Texas Dept. of Education who was basically fired for saying that evolution was good science? (Because apparently only the geniuses who were elected to the Texas State Board of Education were allowed to have opinions on scientific issues, or something.) After that, I’ve realized how hard it can be to win such a case, if the employer has even vaguely plausible reasons for dismissing someone. Probably it’s even more difficult to win against a private employer like Caltech. If Caltech didn’t settle, they probably think they’ve got a strong case, and this is probably the opinion of lawyers who have absolutely no interest in evolution vs. creationism/ID. It will basically come down to whether or not Caltech followed the appropriate policies and procedures.

On the other hand, we know that the other side is close-to-crazy – reading Coppedge’s thousands and thousands of straight-up, hard-shell Young-Earth Creationist posts (the news stories only mention ID, which just indicates the journalists haven’t done any research at all) at his Creation-Evolution Headlines website is enough to determine that.

And Coppedge wasn’t just an ID creationist, although that’s bad enough, especially to well-informed scientists who care about good science and public education. Coppedge’s main activity was posting YEC stuff to Creation-Evolution Headlines for years and years. Amongst his posts, he regularly trashed JPL/Cassini-produced science – e.g. anytime some finding could be twisted into some argument that Saturn’s moons, or rings, or whatever were young, Coppedge would turn this into a diatribe about the dogmatism and materialism of scientists who accept that the Universe and planets are old.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it – how many posts did Coppedge produce at Creation-Evolution Headlines? It may be tens of thousands for all I know. I only discovered his RSS feed in 2006 or so, and every time I was subscribed, I would soon unsubscribe, because the sheer volume of posts was difficult to keep up with. I wonder if the lawyers will ask if any of this activity happened on JPL work time? That could certainly be a relevant issue. Even if Caltech/JPL academics are given latitude about blogging on work time, that might not apply to a sysadmin, and even if all employees are given some latitude about blogging (which I think employers should), it is highly debatable whether pushing pseudoscience on a massive scale, including pseudoscience specifically contradicting the published research produced by the JPL/Cassini mission, would pass muster.

The Sensuous Curmudgeon is following this most closely, although again, the only primary sources are basically the news and DI propaganda.

http://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress[…]oids-report/

E.g.:

More Youth on Titan 04/09/2011 April 09, 2011 — Hopes that Saturn’s giant moon Titan might have volcanoes just dropped. A new paper in Icarus1 concludes Titan gets its geology from the outside, not the inside. If confirmed, it implies all the surface features were created by wind, impacts and weather – not by active geology. The hopeful cryovolcano announced last year (Sotra Facula, see 12/24/2010, bullet 12) was disputed by Moore and Pappalardo, authors of the new paper. Titan may be a geologically dead world.

Titan’s atmosphere, however, remains a subject of intense interest. Scientists were eager to visit Titan via Cassini because of its thick atmosphere of nitrogen and methane. Because precipitation of methane and its byproducts was considered inevitable, astrobiologists were eager to find liquid as possible abodes for life. Some proposed a global ocean several kilometers deep. When the Huygens Probe landed in January 2005 with a thud on a moist but mostly dry lake bed, those hopes evaporated.

Planetary scientists have also had an age conundrum with Titan. They know that the methane in the atmosphere is destroyed and converted to other compounds in a one-way process. This puts strong upper limits on the age of the atmosphere – far less than the 4.5-billion-year age assumed for the solar system. They had hoped that a reservoir of methane under the surface would be found to erupt in cryovolcanos to replenish the atmosphere. The new paper casts doubt on that solution; see the Cassini press release for a summary of the findings, and also PhysOrg, Science Daily.

Instead of volcanoes, another possible large crater has been found. The “ghost crater” reported by New Scientist is disputed by others. The surprising dearth of volcanoes leads many planetary scientists to say they are quickly erased by erosion. If it weren’t for the atmosphere, scientists expect Titan would look like Callisto, a dead moon orbiting Jupiter.

Another paper in press in Icarus analyzed Titan’s equatorial sand dunes.2 The longitudinal dunes, covering about 12.5% of the surface, were a surprise when discovered, because scientists were expecting large lakes or even a global ocean. They had also doubted that the winds were strong enough at the surface to move particles around. Dunes also exist on Mars, Venus, and of course, Earth, but on Titan, the average 300-foot-high dunes are nearly 3 km apart, getting farther apart at higher latitudes. Unlike the silica sands on Earth, the particles in Titan’s dunes are thought to be composed of hydrocarbon dust and ice precipitated out of the atmosphere. All together, they constitute the largest known reservoir of organics on Titan, because the combined area of dunes is about as large as the United States (Titan’s diameter is also about that size).

The dunes also impinge on theories of Titan’s age. For one, they are among Titan’s most youthful features; for another, they indicate a lack of persistent liquid on Titan’s equator, even though liquid ethane should have been raining onto the surface throughout Titan’s history. The presence of dunes implies that much of Titan is arid. If spread out evenly over the globe, the particles in this largest reservoir of organics (larger than all the observed lakes combined) would doubtless fail to cover Titan with the predicted accumulation of hydrocarbons that must have been produced in the assumed 4.5-billion-year age of the moon. “The dune distribution places constraints on Titan’s meteorology and geology,” the authors said.

1. Jeffrey M. Moore and Robert T. Pappalardo, “Titan: An Exogenic World?”, Icarus April 2011, doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2011.01.019.

2. LeGall, Janssen et al., “Cassini SAR, radiometry, scatterometry and altimetry observations of Titan’s dune fields,” Icarus (article in press), doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2011.03.026.

[Coppedge then comments on his own description above. He always does this in green for some reason, which I cannot reproduce.]

We are still discovering facts about Titan, so definitive conclusions are premature; however, enough is known to falsify many assumptions and predictions made by those who refuse to budge from their A.S.S. (age of the solar system, 4.5 billion years; see 02/19/2011). They were wrong about a global ocean; they were wrong about huge lakes of liquid ethane; they were dumbfounded to find sand dunes; and now it appears they were wrong about active geology.

The upper limits on age appear to be growing stronger with time. The puzzlement on their faces, and the silence about defending the consensus age, are tell-tale signs that their fascination with discovery is tempered by panic over looming destruction of favored beliefs about the age of the solar system (02/15/2008). Titan may be the old-agers’ Titanic.

Next headline on: Solar System • Geology • Dating Methods

What if JPL hired someone who turned out to be a Flat-Earther? Would it be discrimination to disfavor that employee when half the employees are being cut (for instance)? It’s precisely the same situation, once you know anything about the actual science of how we know the solar system is ~4.5 billion years old…

Oops, forgot link: http://creationsafaris.com/crev2011[…]tm#20110409a

For many, many more similar comments on Cassini-derived studies, see: http://tinyurl.com/72qaqte

Wow. Until this trial happened, I had no idea Coppedge was employed by the Cassini mission. A lot of his old posts take on a new aspect once this is realized. E.g.

The study of Titan is a work in progress, so any conclusions drawn at this time are subject to revision as more data come in. We can, however, step back and consider what planetary scientists expected to find and what they have found so far. In the decades after the Voyager visits (1981), when scientists realized an irreversible erosion of atmospheric methane was precipitating hydrocarbons onto the surface (especially ethane, which has no way to get back into the atmosphere), scientists expected to find, over the course of 4.5 billion years, an accumulation of half a kilometer or more of liquid ethane in a global ocean. That was a clear prediction that has been spectacularly falsified by Cassini observations (see list of previous articles). In fact, the Huygens probe was designed to float on that ocean that failed to materialize.

Instead, we found Titan to have paltry accumulations of liquid in scattered lakes near the poles, while the equatorial regions are largely covered in icy sand dunes. Now we are learning that the polar lakes are probably shallow, could have impermeable bottoms, and move around so rapidly that they don’t deposit sediment on the lake floors (or else they deposit bright sediments). But if the sediments are bright, which would be surprising in itself, is there enough sediment to account for 4.5 billion years of deposition? In addition, Titan, the largest moon with the greatest gravitational attraction, has few craters (three to five) after all that time.

You have to ask yourself whether it is credible these processes have been going on for billions of years. Did 4.5 billion years ever exist? Is it a fiction? In order to save the blessed timescale so precious to planetary scientists (because Darwin depends on it), all kinds of evidence-free theory-rescue devices are being rigged: maybe the ethane seeped into the interior where no one can find it; maybe the interior has a methane reservoir that erupts through cryovolcanoes, replenishing the atmosphere; maybe this, maybe that. If scientists stuck to the observations and drew reasonable conclusions from data alone, they would have to conclude that there are severe upper limits on how long Titan has been acting this way. Let facts be submitted to a candid world.

http://creationsafaris.com/crev2011[…]tm#20110219a

This isn’t just mildly bringing up some vague form of ID on biology issues far removed from space science, this is trashing the research on which JPL scientists are experts and Coppedge is not.

I wonder if peoples’ initially problems with Coppedge really were only related to ID, or if someone noticed this stuff and got annoyed.

Nick Matzke said:

This isn’t just mildly bringing up some vague form of ID on biology issues far removed from space science, this is trashing the research on which JPL scientists are experts and Coppedge is not.

It’s sort of like a manager at a meat-packing plant ranting on and on about how “Meat is murder” and that tofu is ambrosia.

I wonder if peoples’ initially problems with Coppedge really were only related to ID, or if someone noticed this stuff and got annoyed.

I bet it was trashtalk like that was the primary reason for his firing.

We all get used to seeing stupid things from creationists, but …

A new finding shows dogs performing better on one kind of intelligence test than chimpanzees. If evolution teaches that human intelligence is the main trait separating us from other animals, and dogs are smarter than apes, shouldn’t the conclusion be that dogs are closer on the family tree? If not, is it valid for evolutionary biologists to pick and choose the traits that matter?

It’s sort of like a manager at a meat-packing plant ranting on and on about how “Meat is murder” and that tofu is ambrosia

Actually, that would be the equivalent of a JPL employee arguing that it is ethically wrong to study Titan. That would be inappropriate for someone who has accepted a job studying Titan, but at least is a subjective viewpoint.

Although this may be irrelevant to the trial, Coppedge denies objective reality. It is more the equivalent of claiming that the meat is tofu.

apokryltaros said:

Nick Matzke said:

This isn’t just mildly bringing up some vague form of ID on biology issues far removed from space science, this is trashing the research on which JPL scientists are experts and Coppedge is not.

It’s sort of like a manager at a meat-packing plant ranting on and on about how “Meat is murder” and that tofu is ambrosia.

Well, that is mostly allowed under the 1st amendment. As long as he isn’t bothering anyone at work by doing it, and as long as he isn’t giving away business sensitive or other non-public information.

For Coppedge, the case seems to focus on the former. What Nick discovered (that Coppedge has been posting commentary on JPL missions on web sites) might also bring the latter issue into play. However, we should be cautious here; Coppedge has every right to voice his opinion about public information in a non-harassing way. Even including the opinion that his employer and co-workers are doing science wrong.

We are still discovering facts about Titan, so definitive conclusions are premature; however, enough is known to falsify many assumptions and predictions made by those who refuse to budge from their A.S.S. (age of the solar system, 4.5 billion years; see 02/19/2011).

Wow! No scientist claims the solar system is 4.5 billion years old. It’s the earth that is 4.5 billion years old.

apokryltaros said:

Nick Matzke said:

This isn’t just mildly bringing up some vague form of ID on biology issues far removed from space science, this is trashing the research on which JPL scientists are experts and Coppedge is not.

It’s sort of like a manager at a meat-packing plant ranting on and on about how “Meat is murder” and that tofu is ambrosia.

Except that Coppedge’s job is much more closely analogous to that of the man who fixes the conveyor belts at the meat-packing factory. Coppedge was merely a computer “systems administrator” - he fixed the computers of the people who ran the Cassini mission, he was not a member of the team (even though his PR would have you think otherwise).

I wonder if peoples’ initially problems with Coppedge really were only related to ID, or if someone noticed this stuff and got annoyed.

I bet it was trashtalk like that was the primary reason for his firing.

Part of the problem was that because he fixed people’s computers he made “house calls” and he used the opportunity to try to sell his DVDs. He also tended to fix things the way he thought they should be, rather than the way he was asked to. Part of the reason that he was “let go” is that a large proportion of the slimmed-down team wouldn’t have him anywhere near their computers.….

eric said -

However, we should be cautious here; Coppedge has every right to voice his opinion about public information in a non-harassing way. Even including the opinion that his employer and co-workers are doing science wrong.

And in fact, if the Discovery Institute presentation here is accurate, which is highly unlikely, then the Discovery Institute would actually be right about the case.

If Coppedge were doing his job correctly and with respect for his fellow employees, but expressing creationist beliefs in his non-working hours, then in that hypothetical and unlikely case, his firing would indeed be a clear case of discrimination.

Please let’s leave authoritarianism and purity tests to the creationists. A competent computer programmer who does their work and respects other employees can have any private beliefs they wish.

Obviously I don’t know what happened, but I have some rational guesses, based on my past experience. Needless to say I will modify my guesses if credible information that disputes them becomes available. But for now I am guessing that -

1) The Discovery Institute is misrepresenting reality.

2) Coppedge was posting creationist material so obsessively that it seems likely that it interfered with his job performance.

3) It has been suggested that Coppedge was excessively bothering others at work and that fits with the hostile, arrogant tone and obsessive volume of his blog postings.

4) It has been suggested that Coppedge was given a chance to modify these unacceptable behaviors and did not, and that fits with my general impression of Caltech as an institution of good repute.

So my current guess is that his firing was due to behavior that would have been equally bad if he were not a creationist and that the DI is dissembling.

What I think is going on here is that the DI is in essence demanding privilege for creationism, demanding that bad behavior that no-one should engage in is suddenly okay if it is done by a creationist.

Certainly, if a pro-science poster here were employed somewhere, discovered that a fellow employee who was a competent and collegial computer programmer was privately a creationist, and excessively hounded that person during work hours in an insulting and distracting way that interfered with work, that would be grounds for a request to stop, and probably dismissal if the behavior was not stopped.

The point here is not that creationists should be fired, but that being a creationist does not grant special privileges.

Actually, that’s nearly always the point when dealing with them.

Karen S. said: Wow! No scientist claims the solar system is 4.5 billion years old. It’s the earth that is 4.5 billion years old.

Well, the solar system is about 4.6 billion years old so 4.5 ain’t far wrong.

You’re right.

Or he could just be fired because they were downsizing. That sucks, it has happened to me, but no need to search for alternate nefarious explanations. –dan

https://me.yahoo.com/a/n2WhMtEQrvsR[…]DNMct2#93ec7 said:

Or he could just be fired because they were downsizing. That sucks, it has happened to me, but no need to search for alternate nefarious explanations. –dan

Yeah, they only kept 2/4 sysadmins, so it seems like a tough case to make. Coppedge alleges that he should have been kept on seniority & other grounds. Basically people were scored and the best were kept; it seems like stuff like the above might legitimately effect his score.

There is also part of the lawsuit which is about a “demotion” (from an informal position, no difference in pay, etc.) which happened before the layoffs, allegedly this is specifically about ID, but it is hard to imagine the above not playing a role once people found out about it.

Another interesting thing is that everyone knew the layoffs were coming years ahead of time. So maybe JPL employees were scheming to ditch him when the time came, or maybe Coppedge was scheming to cause maximum damage and maximize benefit to The Cause since he figured he’s be laid off anyway.

Coppedge is on the Board of Directors of Illustra Media, the producer of the DVDs he was distributing. Illustra Media is a shell company of Discovery Media, which in turn is the successor to the infamous “Moody Institute of Science,” producer for decades of pro-creationism / anti-science media for the fundamentalist Moody Bible Institute. With these links established, if Coppedge says the DVDs were about science, he’ll be laughed out of court.

Federal Judge John Jones said it best in 2005: “We have concluded that intelligent design is not science, and moreover that intelligent design cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” Judge Jones also stated: “It is ironic that several of these individuals (sworn witnesses), who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the Intelligent design Policy.”

Creationists have been lying about intelligent design creationism for years - saying it is science and denying it has anything to do with religion. It will be interesting to see if Coppedge and his fellow travellers continue this creationist custom of lying under oath.

(Slightly modified from a comment I had published at the Washington Post’s Coppedge web article yesterday (hope I’m not violating copyright or something…) I’ve been pointing to this Coppedgge - Illustra - Moody “smoking gun” connection ever since it first reared its ugly head - see my comment (#6) at http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]e-is-guilty/ - made in April 2010)

It takes fairly careful reading of this http://www.washingtonpost.com/natio[…]R_story.html Wapo story to sort out the grounds of dismissal.

Coppedge admits that “he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design and handed out DVDs on the idea while at work.”

You shouldn’t pursue your personal interests on work time, nor waste your coworkers’ time that way. That would have been grounds for a warning, at least. But it was worse than that. “Coppedge received a written warning because his co-workers complained of harassment”. (My bolding.)

In my view, he was extremely lucky to get away with only a written warning at that. If it had gotten to the stage that he was “harrassing” people, and they were complaining about it, dismissal was reasonable. My guess is that management had let it get too far, and should have tackled it earlier.

But the real reason he was dismissed, say Caltech (which manages JPL for NASA) was redundancy: Coppedge was “one of two Cassini technicians and among 246 JPL employees let go last year due to planned budget cuts”.

Thus the Wapo, which appears to be quoting court filings.

Seems pretty open and shut to me. He wasn’t fired for being an IDer, or even a YEC. He wasn’t fired for stating his views at work. He wasn’t even fired for harrassing workmates about them, though he was warned in writing not to do that. He was fired because of budget cuts, with others.

Unless CalTech is lying in its teeth about those redundancies, he hasn’t got a leg to stand on.

harold said: So my current guess is that his firing was due to behavior that would have been equally bad if he were not a creationist and that the DI is dissembling.

I completely agree. It’s harassment regardless of whether he was talking about creationism, rocket science, or baseball. The relevant questions to determine harassment are: was it inappropriate. Was it unwanted. Was he asked to stop and didn’t, etc.

Even for job-relevant science, your co-workers only have an obligation to listen to your opinion on a specific matter once or twice, and they aren’t obligated to do what you suggest. If you persist in bringing up your pet scientific issue over and over again, long after the team has considered it, made a decision, and moved forward, that can be harassment too. Not always, but it can be. How many folks out there have dealt with scientific kooks who won’t let some minor issue go? I know I have.

So, the “ID is science” thing is really a red herring. For this case, it probably doesn’t matter if it is or not. It if were, Coppedge would just be guilty of harassing coworkers with science instead of harassing coworkers with religion.

Paul Burnett said:

Coppedge is on the Board of Directors of Illustra Media, the producer of the DVDs he was distributing. Illustra Media is a shell company of Discovery Media, which in turn is the successor to the infamous “Moody Institute of Science,” producer for decades of pro-creationism / anti-science media for the fundamentalist Moody Bible Institute. With these links established, if Coppedge says the DVDs were about science, he’ll be laughed out of court.

Federal Judge John Jones said it best in 2005: “We have concluded that intelligent design is not science, and moreover that intelligent design cannot uncouple itself from its creationist, and thus religious, antecedents.” Judge Jones also stated: “It is ironic that several of these individuals (sworn witnesses), who so staunchly and proudly touted their religious convictions in public, would time and again lie to cover their tracks and disguise the real purpose behind the Intelligent design Policy.”

Creationists have been lying about intelligent design creationism for years - saying it is science and denying it has anything to do with religion. It will be interesting to see if Coppedge and his fellow travellers continue this creationist custom of lying under oath.

(Slightly modified from a comment I had published at the Washington Post’s Coppedge web article yesterday (hope I’m not violating copyright or something…) I’ve been pointing to this Coppedgge - Illustra - Moody “smoking gun” connection ever since it first reared its ugly head - see my comment (#6) at http://www.uncommondescent.com/inte[…]e-is-guilty/ - made in April 2010)

And an important point it is – I always wondered what had happened to the Moody Institute of Science. I think even scholars have neglected its importance in the history of creationism. The videos go back to the 1950s at least I think. Before the days of youtube, the videos were not well-known at all, except perhaps in the right sort of church basement libraries.

Has anyone seen the carnivorous plants Moody video on youtube? Behe didn’t have *anything* on these guys.

The Dishonesty Institute is already whining because the JPL legal team is approaching the case as an employee who abused his time on the job to engage in unauthorized religious activities which distracted from his work as well as interferring with other employees at JPL. They are trying very much to enter into the case all the DI movies on ID as evidence that it is a valid scientific theory and that Coppedge has a right, i.e., freedom of speech, to talk about science. Per the DI site, apparently the judge will so far allow minimum such evidence in the case and the DI is outraged. They want it to be a showcase for ID and have Coppedge martyred for the cause. I expect Rick Santorum to step in and blast science at any moment on behalf of the DI.

Klinghoffer is declaring victory even if they lose – does this mean they’re going to lose?

http://www.evolutionnews.org/2012/0[…]p057331.html

I watched Moody Institute films as a high school student. The biology teacher tended to stop the film toward the end when they got expressly ‘preachy.’ Some times h

The PT sign-in routine seems badly whack.

This is G. Hurd

I watched Moody Institute films as a high school student. The biology teacher who ran them tended to stop the film toward the end when they got expressly ‘preachy.’ Some times he ‘forgot.’

The best place to go for info on Coppedge, etc, is the NCSE.com website where they have all the court documents available. You can cut to the chase by reading the JPL Trial document filed March 5th. From the sidebar, Legal Cases - Open Cases - Coppedge vs JPL

There you will find out that Coppedge’s “demotion” was from an honorary position and involved no loss in pay grade nor salary. His original suit against JPL was about this pseudo-demotion and the HR letter that went along with it. He wanted his honorary position restored and to be able to talk ad nauseum about his DVD’s without further repercussions. His suit was amended to “wrongful termination” after he was laid off a year later. To make one matter moot, the team leader position had been eliminated in a consolidation reorganization. Coppedge couldn’t get it back if he wanted to.

According to the court documents filed by JPL, Coppedge had not updated his skill set. He configured routers and operated an HP OpenView network monitoring system, both of which were being phased out. Other technicians were proficient in Linux and newer monitoring systems; Coppedge wasn’t. Sad, but true, he simply wasn’t needed anymore. It happens to most of us at some point but we move on to other things. Unless, of course, you’re a creationist with an entitlement complex!

It appears that there is no reporter assigned to this case, so call the “news” coming out of the trial is from the Coppedge team. That makes it very difficult to follow the developments.

Doc Bill said: There you will find out that Coppedge’s “demotion” was from an honorary position and involved no loss in pay grade nor salary.

Aside, but I really hate this particular argument. Most of us know full well that ‘lateral transfers’ are used by companies and government to sideline problem employees. Its a demotion. Not maybe in the technical sense, but it is a ‘soft firing’ in that the employer is attempting to reduce employee responsibilities or job satisfaction to the point where they quit.

Having said that, I think JPL’s other arguments are just fine, Coppedge’s whole ID focus is legally crazy, and I expect (and hope) Coppedge will lose badly.

eric said:

Doc Bill said: There you will find out that Coppedge’s “demotion” was from an honorary position and involved no loss in pay grade nor salary.

Aside, but I really hate this particular argument. Most of us know full well that ‘lateral transfers’ are used by companies and government to sideline problem employees. Its a demotion. Not maybe in the technical sense, but it is a ‘soft firing’ in that the employer is attempting to reduce employee responsibilities or job satisfaction to the point where they quit.

Having said that, I think JPL’s other arguments are just fine, Coppedge’s whole ID focus is legally crazy, and I expect (and hope) Coppedge will lose badly.

You’ll find the JPL trial brief (on the NCSE web site) interesting reading.

The “lead Systems Administrator” role that Coppedge was removed from consisted of some additional adminstrative duties, including acting as the “conduit” between the SA group and management. The harassment complaint brought to a head a whole raft of unfinished business about Coppedge’s “uncooperative attitude and poor listening and interpersonal skills, which contributed to issues about his technical performance”. Basically, on being formally given the written warning over his “harassing” of one of his users, Coppedge displayed all the behaviour that caused complaints for years to such an extent that his line manager was obliged to act.

Eric observed:

Not maybe in the technical sense, but it is a ‘soft firing’ in that the employer is attempting to reduce employee responsibilities or job satisfaction to the point where they quit.

Except in Coppedge’s case his removal from the honorary position was done because his interpersonal relationships had degraded to the point it was affecting both customers and the team. A demotion is very clear: loss in grade. His suit was written to convey the impression that he was demoted in grade and you have to read through an awful lot of court documents to confirm that he suffered no loss in grade nor pay. His feelings were hurt. So he sued.

Crazy stuff happens at work. I knew a guy who got crossways with his boss and started putting a PostIt note over the keyhole on the boss’ door. Sometimes several times a day. Boss could never catch him in the act and we all played dumb. Finally, Security put a camera in the ceiling vent but it showed nothing. A PostIt note had been put over the lens. After 3 months, and a couple of lectures to the group by HR which only strengthened their solidarity, the boss transferred out. The power of the PostIt note.

Paul Burnett said:

SLC said: Just as it would be nice of my Alma Mater, UC Berkeley, could revoke the PhDs of Jonathan Wells and Duane Gish.

Point of curiosity: Does that ever actually happen? Can a college / university retroactively revoke a degree? I can see it as a possibility if fraud is detected in research leading to a degree, but can they do it for malfeasance / misfeasance / misbehavior years later, for giving aid and comfort to the enemy or whatever?

I highly doubt it, but I have no idea.

PS For kicks I once checked out Gish’s Ph.D. (had to be requested from the off-campus repository). It was basically chemistry. I think I scanned the front matter matter at least if anyone is interested.

Point of curiosity: Does that ever actually happen? Can a college / university retroactively revoke a degree?

Hardy v. Brigham Young University | Open Shirts, Open Minds …

chadhardy.com/meet_the_legal_team.html In early October 2008, recent BYU graduate Chad Hardy received a letter dated … list and would not be awarded a degree from Brigham Young University. … Please take a stand with Chad Hardy to remind the leaders of the Church of Jesus …

It’s extremely rare for a university to take away a degree. You paid for it, you earned it.

It’s not impossible though. A few years ago, BYU, the Mormon dating site, took away some degrees. The big crime of these guys was.… (Easily shocked readers shouldn’t read beyond this point, it is very gruesome).…

Posing for a calendar with their shirts off!!! I’m not sure why Mormon boys with their shirts off is any sort of big deal. Maybe that’s where the Mormon church puts their mind controlling devices or brain parasites or whatever they use for thought control.

I’m guessing, but BYU probably has a swimming pool and it is probably filled with boys with their shirts off.

More shocking news about Mormon BYU porn. I suppose this calendar maker was lucky they didn’t burn him at the stake.

Ex-Mormon calendar-maker has BYU diploma yanked w.religionnewsblog.com/22800/mormons-exposed

21 Oct 2008 – When a student applies for graduation, he or she must be in good standing … The BYU letter said Hardy’s degree is on hold because he was not in good … A dozen Mormon missionaries are again taking off their trademark white shirts for a calendar that seeks to strip away stereotypes about their church.

PS Utah is the nations number 1 state in consumption of porn. Somehow I doubt that too many Mormons haven’t seen a guy with his shirt off.

The BYU thing sounds like the student’s hadn’t gotten their degree yet, and the University revoked their student-in-good-standing status before they did. Which is silly but probably legal.

If they did it after the degree was awarded, I imagine you could sue…honorary degrees are different though, those are revoked all the time when people become dictators, commit genocide, etc.

raven said: The big crime of these guys was…Posing for a calendar with their shirts off!!!

It probably wasn’t the missing shirts, but the missing Magic Underwear™! (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_garment)

Hendrik Schon, a former Bell Labs employee is an example of someone whose PhD degree was revoked.

Bernie said:

Hendrik Schon, a former Bell Labs employee is an example of someone whose PhD degree was revoked.

Yes, but it was a German university that revoked it. Has this ever happened at an American university?

Bengu Sezen from Columbia Univ. (although he still has a european doctorate)

A quick googling shows this http://www.uah.edu/legal/pdf_files/[…]f_degree.pdf

James said:

Bengu Sezen from Columbia Univ. (although he still has a european doctorate)

A quick googling shows this http://www.uah.edu/legal/pdf_files/[…]f_degree.pdf

Yes but the degree was revoked because of fraud committed while the individual was a student at Columbia. The question is, if someone got a legitimate degree (e.g. it is my understanding that the degrees earned by Wells and Gish were based on legitimate work), is it possible to revoke the degree based on misconduct committed after the student has left the university? By the way, not to pick on UC Berkeley but a similar situation exists for Jason Lisle and Marcus Ross, both of whom earned legitimate degrees and are now YECs (presumably they were also YECS when pursuing the degrees and were just jumping through the hoops).

SLC, maybe I should have been more clear in my post. The url refers to a summary of some cases of degree revocation in the U.S. and doesn’t discuss the Sezan case at all. My apologies.

Why did my nym morphed into James and not my normal jimnorth?

Looks like you can follow the trial here: http://twitter.com/JBrianCharles

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nick Matzke published on March 12, 2012 10:08 PM.

Geyserite terrace, Yellowstone National Park was the previous entry in this blog.

Now that’s chutzpah is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter