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The third charge is really the one example of the second and fourth charge. A letter from Dr. Stringer to the Secretary of the University complains that Mr. Chaplain wanted time off "over the week-end Stringer's subsequent conviction in Court for violation of the Trade Descriptions Act! These charges appear to have been dropped or have metamorphosed by the time the case reached the Appeals Committee. The vagueness of the charges makes it difficult to answer this question. It is possible that the "inability The insubordination charge could be of sufficient seriousness, but that likewise requires a special burden of proof, notably that Mr.

Chaplain's performance was demonstrably worse than that of any other employee not considered for sacking. The "limited professional competence" part of the fourth charge is of interest in several ways. Both in the one hundred plus dismissal cases we have studied, and in the plus cases from the AAUP studied by Lionel S. Lewis [8], allegations stating incompetence are rare. The "limited professional competence" is vague; it could imply incompetence but it could also imply nothing more than the lack of some particular paper qualification. The Appeals Committee ruled that Mr.

Chaplain was guilty of all four charges. The documents that are available to us do provide evidence that there was interpersonal conflict in the Observatory, and between staff in the Observatory and the Department of Geography. However, the documents do not establish that Mr. Chaplain was the sole, or even the primary, cause of much of this conflict. Furthermore, one document alleges that another staff member, not considered for dismissal, may have been guilty of a more serious offence than any listed against Mr. There is evidence that Mr. Chaplain might have acted contrary to some directions from the Scientific Director, Dr.

There is no indication, however, for the seriousness of such "insubordination". Furthermore, to be reasonably satisfied about a charge along these lines, we would need to be convinced about the consistency of managerial direction as might be appropriate. In the definitive document from the Scientific Director, [9] quoted from in a later section, the Scientific Director gave Mr.

Chaplain broad - and possibly conflicting - responsibilities. Should the Scientific Director then add yet additional demands, there is the problem that the subordinate might well find himself in a "double bind" or "Catch 22" situation. The Appeals Committee ruled that "there were no mitigating circumstances. True, there was also one additional "mitigating circumstance" which only came to light several years later.

There are, in fact, sufficient mitigating circumstances that it is necessary to take some space to provide a reasonably full description. The Observatory staff were overworked. Chaplain had a position of considerable responsibility if not of well-defined authority he was the most overburdened of all. Part of his problem is that he took his responsibilities extremely seriously.

It could be argued that a less dedicated individual would not have come into conflict with some of the other personnel. However, we do not wish to give the wrong idea here; the former Director of the Edgbaston Observatory, Mr. Kelley, testified that he had been able to get along with Mr. Chaplain and that he found his dedication to work very helpful. Even a document from the Scientific Director, Dr. Stringer, admits that Observatory staff were seriously overworked. Thus, this point of mitigation appears never to have been in doubt. Observatory staff were expected to put in unpaid overtime in the middle of night and on weekends - and yet extra time needed to be spent during periods of the most inclement weather.

The rigours of meteorological data collecting do not allow flexitime working hours. There is not even an allegation that Mr. Chaplain had not carried his full share - although Dr. Stringer did make that one complaint about Mr. Chaplain wanting time off on a weekend to attend a student conference. Chaplain had consistently carried far more than his share of extra work, including the most unpleasant times.

It should be added that the pay was considerably less than that given to comparable weather personnel in the employ of the central government the Meteorological Office. It is obvious from the documents of the case that part of the conflict among staff had its origins in their feelings of being overworked and underpaid. Neither of these conditions can be blamed onto Mr.

A further mitigating circumstance was the status inconsistency of Observatory staff, an inconsistency which the University created. Historically, the Edgbaston Observatory was for nearly a century the responsibility of the Birmingham and Midland Institute. From the Observatory provided an increasing number of weather forecasts and other services to firms and local authorities in the West Midlands, who in turn themselves began to play a more important part in the Observatory's development.

The existence of Dr. Stringer's postgraduate courses in meteorology and climatology combined with his strong desire for the Observatory to be part of the Geography Department at Birmingham University lay behind the transfer of the administrative responsibility for the Observatory from the Institute to the University. The original Observatory staff became uncertain about both their particular positions vis-a-vis the university hierarchy of academic and non-academic employees, and their future.

New duties were added to old ones. The Scientific Director had a totally different conception of what the Observatory should do. All of these problems might have been resolvable were it not for a major change imposed by the University, a change which both increased the work load for Observatory staff and placed them under less direct effective supervision.

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Originally, when the Edgbaston Observatory was a separate organisation, it had its own full-time Director, who participated in some of the day-to-day routine or, better to say, day-and-night and weekends routine. The Director had also played an important role in the training of his staff.

His continual presence, and his willingness "to get his hands dirty" when necessary, meant that there was close and effective integration of the staff. Given that such a meteorological service requires both continuous monitoring and frequent extra periods of work in crises, a tightly knit organisation is vital. When the University took over the Observatory, the new appointment of Scientific Director was not intended to be a full-time post. The situation was specified in a document entitled "A Message from the Scientific Director" [9], a quotation from which also reveals something of his attitude towards the Observatory staff: The Scientific Director of an establishment is appointed sometimes on a full-time basis, and sometimes on a part-time basis; depending upon the cost, and therefore the importance of that establishment to the University.

In my case, the appointment is part-time, and I still have my full-time duties as a Senior Lecturer to perform. If an Observatory Superintendent is appointed in the future, the intention is that this post should be filled by Mr. When I am not available, Mr. Chaplain is to act as Observatory spokesman In terms of future expansion, my hope is that Mr. Chaplain will become Superintendent of Forecasts, Services and Networks The Academic Staff constitute collectively the 'University'. To become a member of Academic Staff a good degree is essential.

In the case of an affiliated institution such as the Observatory the normal procedure is to place a member of the Academic Staff as Director at the Head of that Institution. Such a person is not a member of the staff of that Institution; in effect, he is the 'University' watching its investment. Academic staff initiate and direct research programmes but do not normally do the detailed work involved. A responsible attitude towards the commercial customers of the Observatory is essential at all times.

A scientific attitude must be maintained at all times. In particular, all staff should make an effort to understand probability forecasting. Clients who do not want these type of forecasts are ignorant of their potentialities. Observatory staff are not to express disbelief in this form of forecasting, whatever their personal view. Because of the attitude of certain Observatory Staff, many individuals in the University have become antagonistic towards the Observatory.

One more step

Kelley's [the former Director] attitude toward the University left much room for improvement and it is up to all staff to show in their dealings with all departments of the University that a new attitude towards authority has indeed developed at the Observatory. Edgbaston Observatory has, I believe, a great future. However, let us not blind ourselves to what it is in the minds of some people: University affiliation demands more than these qualities, admirable as they are I have chosen to associate myself with the Observatory because I think that it can do much to further the cause of Applied Meteorology in Britain, This association has resulted in considerable personal losses for me.

There is no point in my continuing this association if the Observatory is to become a thorn in the flesh of the University. The University was very loath to take over the Observatory in the first place. I persuaded them in the belief that the Observatory was well worthwhile and had fine potential. You have become members of a community which is dedicated to keeping alive the principle of reason and the ideal of truth, in the dark days of British civilisation, whose decline we see going on around us. This selection from Dr.

Stringer's "A Message from the Scientific Director" tells us four things of importance: Thus, inevitably since the position of Superintendent was to be filled from current staff, there would be both a heavy additional burden of work on the existing Observatory staff and far less direct supervision and contact. The Scientific Director delegated considerable and diverse responsibility to Mr. These duties might well have had intrinsic conflicts which could result in "insubordination", a situation which would not be alleviated by the limited time available from the Scientific Director.

Stringer was himself in a conflict situation. On one hand, he "persuaded" the University to take over the Observatory. Despite the fact that this document came from the Scientific Director only a short time before the decision to dismiss Mr. Chaplain, there is no place in the document where Mr. Chaplain, when referred to specifically by name, is not mentioned in a context which denotes that he has been delegated broad and important responsibilities. This implies that the Scientific Director was reasonably satisfied with his abilities and his work. Certainly, the Scientific Director was not adverse to singling individuals out for specific adverse comment, e.

The comments about the former Director appear to us unnecessary. Whatever the Scientific Director felt about the former Director, the expression of such a view could easily exacerbate any already existing interpersonal conflicts, if not precipitating new ones. Chaplain still showed, when interviewed by two of us in , great respect and admiration for the past Director, it would not be surprising if that statement in Dr.

Stringer's "message" would be resented. The statement itself must raise a question about the new Director's tact and courtesy. Accordingly, before considering the dismissal of Mr. Chaplain on the first charge, "[i]nability Given the facts that the University takeover resulted in a further increase in the work load on Observatory staff, severe problems of status inconsistency and uncertainty over the future, and a Scientific Director who intended to spend only one-twelfth the time of the former Director, and given also that the Scientific Director had granted considerable and diverse responsibility to Mr.

Chaplain, the "insubordination" charges require reconsideration. It could be argued that, in such a difficult situation, only an individual who was sufficiently dedicated as to take the risk of making decisions could keep the Observatory functional. It is not uncommon in many organisations besides universities for junior staff to evade or to ignore some of the commands of senior staff in order to do the job at hand more effectively.

Usually, a blind eye is turned to such practices providing the work is done well. If senior staff make conflicting and confusing demands on junior staff, some degree of "insubordination" is inevitable. It is at this point that the allegation within charge "d" becomes important, the allegation that Mr. Chaplain had "limited professional competence". First, there were no examples of significant errors by Mr. Chaplain had brought considerable evidence in the form of unsolicited and solicited testimonials on his behalf, including one from the former Director.

Second, we suggest that the "limited professional competence" allegation crept into the charges as a consequence of credentialism rather than an indication of any specific shortcomings of Mr. The critical point here is that the phrase "limited professional competence" is ambiguous and might well have misled the Appeals Committee. It does not escape us that this dismissal occurred at a time when "insubordination" in various forms was an extremely sensitive issue in universities. Chaplain was dismissed right after the University of Birmingham had made many concessions to "student revolt".

This was also at a time when in the UK there were a number of contested dismissal cases involving academic staff - including one in the Sociology Department of the University of Birmingham which resulted in that Department being blacklisted for a number of years. The case histories of the late s and early s, published by the Council for Academic Freedom and Democracy, are testimony for how easily academic dissidence or conscience could be interpreted or misinterpreted as "insubordination" by university administrators.


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We would not like to suggest that a scientist of uncertain status and lacking support from any powerful professional organisation or trade union would have been the preferred sacrifice to show that "insubordination" to authority would not be tolerated. However, it is not easy to explain this dismissal in more rational terms. In this second perspective on the case of the University of Birmingham versus Mr.

Roland Chaplain, we explore a remarkable contrast - one that endows the affair with some qualities of a classic Greek tragedy and also one that carries important implications for those concerned with "science for the people". Chaplain had majored in theology while at the University of Birmingham, he also took extra-mural courses in meteorology, and this represented a continuation of boyhood interests in compiling and analysing data on weather. Chaplain joined Edgbaston Observatory he thus began with considerable experience and some formal training, and he subsequently received three years of thorough training in those aspects of weather forecasting that related to the efficient operation of the Observatory's public services.

This was given by the former Director Mr. Kelley and was based on thirty years of experience developing these services. A major development planned for the Observatory was the provision of a hour warning service to its local clients, aimed to be ready for the winter of Chaplain did the lion's share of the groundwork for this service. It involved visiting local firms, highways departments, market gardens, public utilities and other enterprises, talking to their representatives, and determining what sort of weather information was most important to them.

In particular, there was the question of how much advance warning they required to take effective action if threatened by snow, fog, icy roads, heavy rainfall, high winds, high dew point levels and the like. Information on local weather conditions was to be fed to the Observatory from numerous amateur weather observers throughout the local area. Chaplain had studied in detail the data on the previous 80 years' weather in the Birmingham area. All of this provided the basis for a sound local interpretative service built around understanding and predicting local weather variations.

Chaplain also refined, after much discussion with users, simple codes of only five digits, to be sent to clients as a quick message in threatening weather conditions. There was considerable local interest in the service Mr. The potential financial savings from such tailor-made advice are large, and clients were willing to commit non-trivial sums to obtain it.

It is necessary to emphasise that local forecasting as envisaged for the Birmingham area is not a common operation.

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The usual run of forecasts apply to a generalised area. Since weather conditions can vary dramatically from place to place - depending on the altitude and local topography - generalised forecasts often have limited value for particular operations. Chaplain's dismissal many of the Observatory's traditional services were preserved.

However, its public reputation slowly declined as the Meteorological Office improved their local weather forecasting services from Elmdon Airport. Chaplain believed that if the reforms he was recommending in had been carried through, the Observatory could have continued to have provided better local weather forecasting services than the Met Office and, with a realistic pricing structure for these services, not just remained viable but indeed even have made a profit which could have been ploughed back into improved services.

Despite the adversity of being dismissed and unable to obtain any kind of reasonable employment, Mr. Chaplain continued his work on local weather forecasting. In addition, he founded the Future Studies Centre in Leeds, which became an important contact point for people around the world who were investigating alternative options for the future.

The Centre's network function was served by a library and a newsletter. The library sought to obtain regular inputs from as many readers as possible, including newsletters and journals from a wide range of groups such as those concerned with renewable energy, alternative economics, communes, communications, and issues of minority groups and Third World countries. The newsletter is both scholarly and a service.

It lists and reviews sources of information, provides book reviews, and also a diary of events, including a listing of conferences. The newsletter is exchanged for other publications and, in this way, Mr. Chaplain and his wife have built up the library.

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Chaplain also continued with his work in weather forecasting. He set up a series of amateur recording groups in part of the North of England. Chaplain's group, which had predicted correctly the blizzards of snow and the extreme cold that brought most of Britain to a stand-still - in contrast to the "Met Office" whose professional forecasters had erred seriously.

We contrast this community service work by Mr. Chaplain with what happened to the Scientific Director of the Edgbaston Observatory and Senior Lecturer later Reader in Climatology who had played such an important role in Mr. To do this we simply quote from an article in The Times of London entitled "University chief who 'prostituted reputation' fined in heating case" [2]: He was found not guilty on four similar charges and one of making a false statement that he was allowed to use the name of the university in promotional material.

All the charges were brought under the Trade Descriptions Act. The case, which West Midlands County Council said was the first of its kind in Britain, concerned solar heating equipment. High pressure advertising from the company headquarters of Sunwarm Solar Systems Ltd. It used the academic status of Dr. Stringer, and people were persuaded to pay hundreds of pounds for installations which, it was claimed, would save money on water heating.

Tests on the equipment showed it was incapable of meeting the claims. Judge Potter said to Dr. Other people brought in extremely sharp and shady business methods. You were too naive to see that what you brought to the enterprise was your prestige as a man of science. The judge added that Dr.

Stringer had 'resorted to charlatanism and eventually downright dishonesty At this point we return to the matter of the dismissal of Mr.

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Chaplain from the University of Birmingham. Since the sacking charges specified the unique role of Dr. Stringer, and since Dr. Stringer was only a few years later shown in Court to have been dishonest in his professional capacity, the whole set of charges against Mr. Chaplain may be viewed in a new light. The "sustained refusal to accept direction", the "issue of forecasts contrary to express instructions" and the "[p]ersistent endeavours to exceed the authority" might have had a justification not entirely apparent to the University administrators at the time.

A damning indictment against the administration of the University of Birmingham is that it has refused the call from a number of quarters to reopen the case of Mr. The number of esoteric specialties 'requiring' unusually extensive training or skill is relatively small. It has been the use of education credentials that the lucrative professions have closed their ranks and upgraded their salaries; and it has been in imitation of their methods that other occupations have 'professionalized'.

There are several aspects of the social system within professions that can lead to conflict, ultimately resulting in the dismissal or banishment of individuals who espouse "radical" views or of low status. To understand better Mr. Chaplain's difficulties at Birmingham University, it is desirable to examine briefly certain symptoms of the "professionalisation syndrome". This is not to defend poor quality work within professions.

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It is to recognise how hierarchical structure and professional socialisation predispose individuals to treat their colleagues and clients unfairly. In the academic and scientific professions, these predisposing tendencies actually retard scholarship, often reducing arguments to personalities rather than to the merits of evidence - quite apart from the time wasted in bureaucratic intrigue against dissenters. As mentioned earlier, the fourth charge against Mr.

Chaplain contained a phrase "limited professional competence". We have already dealt with the fact that there were no examples to support one implication of that phrase, incompetence; indeed, there was evidence to show that Mr. Chaplain had been highly original in his approach to the job and had established a track record of making successful predictions in a notoriously difficult field, where even the most elaborately equipped forecasters are often wrong. However, the phrase "limited professional competence" crystallises an attitude, one that appeared elsewhere in various guises in the administrative documents associated with this case - not to mention passages from the long quotation from Dr.

Stringer's "A Message from the Scientific Director", given earlier. To us, that attitude seems a mixture of snobbery and contempt - " Local weather forecasting provides a strong contrast to most high-level scientific research on weather. The most prestigious types of weather research centre on massive computer models using involved numerical methods to solve equations expressing fundamental physical principles.

Such research puts a premium on advanced understanding of physical and meteorological theory, and on sophistication in computing, numerical analysis and automatic data handling and processing. Other approaches involve complex simulation studies, sometimes exceeding the capacity of all but the largest computers. From the point of view of some professional meteorologists working on level atmospheres incorporating global circulation patterns and continental scale topography, little could be of lower status than poring over local weather data, contacting ordinary users of weather information and doing it in person!

The snobbery implicit in such attitudes pervades many academic and scientific groups. It is not clear to what extent this snobbery is an intrinsic part of the working personality of many academics and scientists and lawyers and medical doctors , and to what extent it is a learned response imposed by the pressures of socialisation and selection into the professions.

The two explanations are not mutually exclusive; in fact, they are mutually reinforcing. Studies on the psychology of scientists show an emphasis on cognitive and personality traits which result in a marked ability or compulsion? It is a common observation that many scientists [11] and academics [12] will rank order institutions, fields of study, colleagues, journals - not to mention, of course, that academics are paid to rank order students.

Furthermore, snobbery is also a protective device, necessary to some extent to sell oneself for jobs, or for research grants, in the "academic marketplace" to use Theodore Caplow and Reece McGee's apt phrase. The tough competition for what are considered the most prestigious jobs, or the most lucrative grants, does not select for modesty. Grantsmanship has become a widespread phenomenon - one that hardly conforms to the Mertonian ideology with its norm of "disinterestedness". The upshot of these psychological and social pressures towards snobbery is that we must interpret what scientists say about their colleagues, and what scientists say about fields or paradigms that are not their own, with the utmost caution.

Mitroff, after studying the interpersonal relations of 42 scientists working on the chemistry and physics of the Apollo moon rock samples, concluded. In going through the comments of the respondents with regard to their feelings toward one another, the extreme volatility of the comments is most striking.


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For sheer intensity of emotion, vituperation, and overall vindictiveness, none of the other areas under investigation even begin to approach the areas concerned with the scientists' feelings about one another. So many of the remarks and judgments contained profanity and bordered on slander if they did not cross over into it that it would be difficult just to count them. Quite apart from the psychodynamics of scientists, and the social pressures from competition, one must also bear in mind the obvious professional self-interest that comes from snobbery: The "expert" sells his services and himself.

The puffing-up of one's self importance, suitably publicised in the discreet way acceptable to professional codes, can result in a not inconsiderable supplementation to one's salary. Another factor that appears to have predisposed Mr. He dismisses this as a symptom of the bias of a liberal press, yet no knowledgeable person has ever called the Arizona Republic, Cincinnati Enquirer or San Diego Union-Tribune liberal.

These newspapers recognize that Trump is not qualified to be president. We agree with them. Friday's release of a record of Donald Trump making lewd remarks about pushing himself on women and kissing and groping them only further solidifies that there really is no argument at all when it comes to who would be the only choice for president. While he offers intriguing ideas, he has zero chance of being elected, and Republicans who vote for him are likely helping Trump by diverting votes from Clinton.

There is no question that Clinton has weaknesses. She has made serious missteps including her use as of a private email server as secretary of state and her initial response to the Sept. She should have built a firewall between the Clinton Foundation and her office to avoid the perception that donors were buying access. However, all of us who do anything make mistakes. The question is whether we learn from them. We think Clinton does and has.

Trump promises to bring millions of new jobs but offers no details of how to do that. He debunks climate change and promises more tax breaks for the wealthy. He wants to repeal Obamacare but has no good substitute — a scenario that leaves one-third of Americans without health insurance, including many with pre-existing conditions now covered.

He wants to slash taxes on business but shows no concern for how it will increase our deficit and debt — things the GOP used to care about. Clinton is far better prepared to deal with terrorist and nuclear threats. She understands how to deal in an effective and aggressive way with the likes of Iran, Russia, North Korea and China. She knows how to be tough, having given explicit advice to begin the military mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. She has a history of working against racism and distrust between minority communities and police.

Do we really want Trump, with his thin skin and impulsive temperament, negotiating on our behalf? He boldly promises to destroy ISIS with military power and illegal torture. Clinton has a realistic plan for reform. He calls for massive deportations without regard for families or the U.

For example, raising the minimum wage is, by nature, inflationary and eliminates low-wage jobs. But at least we know where she stands. Not so with Trump, whose positions change overnight. As she demonstrated in the first debate, Clinton retains her composure under pressure.