I’m No Longer At Cornell

I got fired about a month ago. This would ordinarily fall under the categories, “About time” or “So?”, and thus it is not worth mentioning. Except for this.

I had a spate of radio shows lately about the March “for” “Science” and the public relations dossier on me still had that I taught at Cornell. Some of the radio hosts said things like “He’s a professor at Cornell” or “He teaches at Cornell.”

I was mostly able to correct this on air, but since I’d hate for anybody to think I’m claiming a false credential, I wanted to set the record straight. (The dossier has at last been updated so there should not be new instances.)

Through last summer (2016), I taught in a graduate program and was an Adjunct Professor of Statistics at Cornell. It’s unclear to me exactly when the Adjunct status expired, or even if it’s expired now. But if it did it might have been a couple of months back, since about then one of Jerry Coyne’s readers noticed I was not listed on the Department’s website. Up until about a month ago, I thought I’d be returning to do my usual summer duty—and was indeed informed by the program director that I would. So my claiming Adjunct status was in good faith. (I’ve put in a request to see if I’m still listed or not.)

I was told by the director: “After our meeting last week, I had another meeting in the dean’s office about the…program. There was a strong opinion that if any resident faculty wanted to teach in the program, I should give them preference over non-affiliated faculty.

“Unfortunately, someone from statistics has asked me to teach in the program, and I am in the position of needing to let them, which means that we will not be able to offer you a position teaching this summer in Ithaca.”

The lady who is replacing me, God bless her, and who will now teach the Masters-level statistics course is a lawyer with a specialty in sexual harassment. She isn’t a professor, but she is local. (I don’t live in Ithaca. I’ve not met my replacement.)

Now if that news was underwhelming, this next announcement will be even less interesting than discovering how much loose change was discovered in my couch.

I will not be seeking any future university employment. It is obvious to friends and enemies alike that just about exactly none of my opinions are welcome in or around any American campus. I mention this only to stave off kindhearted emails saying “Did you see State U was hiring?”

“Oh, Briggs, what have you to worry about? Didn’t I hear you were being funded by the oil companies?”

I am. For my work in fooling the public about global-warming-of-doom, I have a lifetime coupon that lets me shave off that annoying nine-tenths of a cent added to the cost of every gallon of gasoline, up to ten gallons. Once per week (cash only). Big Oil knows how to take care of her own.

“No, I have it wrong. You’re a paid shill for the Discovery Institute. At least, that’s what you were accused of in comments at Stream.”

I am? Say! Terrific news. I’ve always wanted to be a shill; it’s been kind of a dream job for me. The DI is a bonus: everybody I’ve ever met from there has been a sweetheart.

I first tried a government sinecure, but all the good ones were taken by Harvard and Yale graduates (Cornell is low on the list). That’s when I decided to become a shill. After all, I possessed in abundance the two most desirable traits for shills: laziness and blowhardedness.

I haven’t been entirely successful landing shill positions. I do have that Big Oil deal, but what I didn’t tell you is that I don’t have a car (and haven’t for twenty years), so the payoff is not as exciting as it first sounded. And though it seems I am a “paid” shill for DI, somehow the pay hasn’t reached me yet. (Is this the fault of the Post Office or IRS?)

Since shilling isn’t doing the trick, I suppose the next natural step for a fellow of my unique qualifications is inheritance. Now since none of my relatives are rich, if this is going to work I’m going to have to be adopted, Roman style, by some wealthy individual. All offers considered.


  1. Men among the ruins have to expect that every formal institution is compromised. Also the great cost of affirmative action is that women and minorities will be promoted ahead of deserving men.

  2. trigger warning

    The best career decision I ever made was putting university teaching (mech engineering, statistics) in my rear view mirror. The trajectory was clear to me two decades ago. Retired at 55 after successful shilling career for greedy, patriarchal, white-male dominated, international corporate cartels. Currently growing tomatoes, LMAO at academic intellectual death throes, and serving as wine sommelier at Trigger Warning Estates.

  3. Plantagenet

    A lawyer who specializes in sexual harassment land the job teaching Stats at Cornell! Good thing universities are keeping their eyes on what’s important or they might have hired someone with a background primarily in stats. It’s only a small step from there to having neurologists teach medicine…the mind boggles.

  4. Michael Dowd

    Sorry to hear this Briggs. Maybe it’s time for your contributors to up the ante a tad. Maybe just a dollar or two more per month. If you wish, I’d be on board with that idea.

  5. George O'Har

    This is how it works. If your replacement had even the remotest qualifications to teach statistics at the graduate level, you could have wandered about in self-deception for a few days. Alas, not the case. Given her specialty, maybe she can develop a method, come up with an algorithm, so the left can get that pesky 1 in 5 distortion to come out right. You know, manipulate and torture the data, twist the facts, invent a few if you have to, ignore the obvious, then get published in some utterly corrupt peer-reviewed journal.

    I’m sad to hear this happened. You seemed to be having fun. Do you have any serious plans? What can your readers do? Your thinking has made a difference, even if Cornell failed to appreciate it.

  6. Sheri

    No car? Are you sure you’re not a closet environmentalist?

  7. Uncle Mike

    The Cornell stat grad students ought to sue the U for intellectual harassment. And torch the dean’s house for good measure.

    Quackery is now the chief attribute and activity at American colleges, in every undiscipline including Math!

    Students, do not be victims any more. Burn the place down. Revenge is sweet. Get yours today.

  8. Given that neurologists are medical doctors, I’d hope that they are teaching medicine, at least the parts pertinent to their specialization, Plantagenet.

  9. Mike Pauwels

    “The lady who is replacing me, God bless her, and who will now teach the Masters-level statistics course is a lawyer with a specialty in sexual harassment.”

    Please say you are kidding. Do we need more social science in statistics? I would rather see a statistician teaching law courses.

  10. Morgan

    I’m sure you’ll find something enjoyable and productive to do.

    From observation, I can tell you that a lot of “Data Science” groups are really IT shops and could use a good statistics person to keep them from doing stupid stuff faster and with more data than ever.

    And Big Data is just a lot of data that was collected for some purpose other than what you want to do with it. Figuring out what you can actually do with it kind of fun.

  11. poitsplace

    I could use some shill money about now too. I used to get accused of that sort of thing all the time for basing my opinion on shady things like the actual data instead of speculation by “qualified” scientists that could never seem to have their speculations pan out in the end. Interestingly enough, one of the loudest “he must be paid by big oil” types was in fact a man that was quite open about the fact that he worked for one of the larger, green PR firms.

    Anyway, best of luck to you (and me) on landing a job as a shill!

  12. You could look for work in the Trump administration. Just sayin’… (as far as I know, they are still looking for a lot of spots.)


  13. hank

    Rest assured when and if the American reconquista takes off, those in positions of power who failed to make their stance known will have title and equity stripped from them and given to those unfairly denied.

    Virtue must be rewarded and evil punished. The alternative is the death of all humanity.

  14. Uncle Mike

    I take it back and apologize. Do not burn, do not commit any act of violence. Just leave.

    Not because the U dumped Brigg’s anti-establishment class. You can get that for free here and/or buy his books.

    But because The U is bad for your health and well-being, now and into the future.

    College is just another word for robbing you blind. You could buy a house instead for the money you pay. What they “teach” is worthless and will have to be forgotten or un-learned later on. There are other ways to get the credentials for most professions, either online or on the job.

    You do not enter the nobility via college unless you were already in it. For those chosen ones, college is your hazing price. You get hazed. For everybody else there is no benefit, only costs.

  15. Shecky R

    Yes, before they implode, still 100s of unfilled positions with the Trumpy Administration. As the GOP always reminds us there are PLENTY of jobs available for people truly willing to work.

  16. Gary in Erko

    Consider it as an honour that they don’t want you.

  17. Plantagenet

    CDQuarles…please read my post again and consider Swift, Twain, Waugh, Amis, Roth, Richler, Bellow etc…
    Briggs…Best of luck for the next chapter.

  18. Fr. John Rickert

    And Climate Change Editor for the NYT? No go, I suppose.

    Their loss.

    By the way, the actuarial field is vast and might be worth a look. I used to be in it and enjoyed it.

    With prayers —
    Fr. Rickert

  19. I’m sorry to hear it. May our Father God bless you with confidence during this time of change, as you prepare for His next assignment.

  20. Sylvain Allard

    It is always funny to hear someone who supports, justify discrimination against, (in your case) LGBTQ, blacks, women, complain that he is discriminated for being a bigot.

    Good for you.

  21. Morgan

    Sylvain Allard. As a regular reader, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Please explain.

  22. gareth

    There must be somewhere that needs a statistician to teach victim-hood studies, shirly?

  23. It would be a fine thing for left and right to be separated, permanently, on parallel planets. Let the left build their utopian society unhindered. Let the right live life by their lights, too. Wouldn’t that be a grand and wonderful scientific experiment? Let us see the left receive all the “social justice” they so richly deserve. Who could object to that? Let the right go off on their own to their just deserts. A shame we have to be mixed up as we are, like vinegar and baking soda in the same beaker. To the left we on the right are simply evil troglodytes perversely sabotaging Progress. While we on the right simply see the left as a cult of destructive lunatics. Would that we could separate. Wouldn’t that be great. And then see what happens to each of the two sides.

  24. acricketchirps

    You could look for work in the Trump administration. Just sayin’…

    Yes, there would seem to a profit waiting to be made in shipping poor coal miners into lower-concentration states for use as political pawns.

  25. acricketchirps

    Ops: stick a ‘be’ in there somewhere, wouldja?

  26. Geezer

    Sylvain Allard. As a regular reader, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
    Please explain.

    I, too, regular reader. I explain: Sylvain live in Lower Slobbovia. Cold freeze brain. Think with bowels instead.

  27. acricketchirps

    That’s not nice. I think recognition of a simple typographical error or two along with Sylvain’s usual struggles with English as a second language would clear everything up.

  28. Sylvain Allard


    My point is easy to understand.

    For Briggs LGBTQ, blacks and women are creatures of lesser value that can justifiably be discriminated upon about anything. But behold that a university should fire him for being bad publicity for them and he complains to be discriminated upon.

    Bigotry is not good for business and Briggs is a bigot, so he got fired. Good for him.

    He will surely be able to find one of the millions of job Trumps will create. (Sarcasm)

  29. Plantagenet, again, neurologists are medical doctors. Did you mean to use some other word, then?

  30. Joy

    Mr. Briggs that place was a millstone! Now you don’t have to be politically correct!
    Freelance lecturer and speaker or consultant would suit you better anyway.
    Who would want to be part of something so contrived and Mickey Mouse in it’s approach to a difficult subject?

    I would like to suggest you start your own University called something else with some of your colleagues but money is needed for that or else a lot of time from those who don’t also require funding. I’m sure there would be lots of contributors for such an enterprise. Just don’t tell people you ate a dog.

    Medicine is a branch of medical science. It is a discipline on it’s own.
    i.e. there are medical consultants and wards and there are neurology and neurosurgery which are also distinct.

    Medical science is the umbrella term for everything and it is a misnomer in my view. It’s not all medical and it’s not all scientific, loosely speaking and in actual practice.

  31. C-Marie

    Briggs is not a bigot. Truth can appear as bigotry to bigots. Standing for God’s creation is not bigotry, but truth.
    God bless, C-Marie

  32. L Ron Hubbard alias John B()

    Rich Ma :: Please provide evidence your sky daddy or flying spaghetti monster (pbuh!), you know, what you call “truth”, actually exists, …

    Sorry – You don’t want evidence of “its” existence, you want evidence that “it” doesn’t exist – if Marie (or I) can’t prove “it” to your satisfaction, then that is yet another arrow in your struggle against “it”

    Good luck – I failed in my own attempt to reject “it” – and may God bless

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