Imprisoned Drug-Smuggling Physics Professor Wants A Raise
    By Hank Campbell | October 23rd 2012 10:43 AM | 20 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Physics professor Paul Frampton of UNC Chapel Hill is sitting in an Argentine jail, busted for trying to smuggle out 2 kilos of cocaine, but that hasn’t stopped him from asking for a raise on his $107,000 annual salary - raise as in he wants it doubled.

    Hey, he has tenure. And a lot of citations.

    Frampton is in a spat with the school because he says they are improperly withholding his salary. They contend his being in an Argentine prison cell for virtually all of this year means he can't possibly be doing any work, even for a tenured professor.

    Life is never so simple. The school has to endure a faculty grievance process, even for something obvious. Oddly, they are likely to lose unless the committee violates its own school rules and even if he loses it would go to a chancellor and then go to court - it's difficult to not be paid when you are entrenched in a public university. Frampton has not yet been convicted and, he notes, only 30 theoretical particle physicists in the world have had their work cited over 8,000 times in research publications. 7 of those are at public universities where their salaries are public and those salaries range $203,000 to $532,000, according to Jay Price at the Charlotte Observer. Given all those facts, he wants more money.

    Why is he in jail?  Smuggling cocaine in his suitcase. He says he flew to Argentina to meet a young bikini model he talked to on the Internet - the Internet is the perfect place for 68-year-old men to meet bikini models from other countries, everyone knows that. But, surprise, they never met after he arrived and he then says he got duped into carrying a suitcase with cocaine in it by some guy there.  Yes, this is one of the best theoretical minds in the world, by his own reckoning - that must be why experimental physicists make fun of these guys.  If his story is true, that general cluelessness about culture is why President Obama getting the endorsement of a bunch of Nobel laureates again isn't going to sway any votes among the voting public. He is lucid enough to make his case about getting paid more money but still got psychologists to determine that, in his 68th year of life, he has acquired a 'schizoid' personality disorder which gives him poor judgment, and so he says his story about being duped into carrying cocaine in an empty suitcase he got from some guy in a foreign country is plausible. The school should be compassionate. He has a disease.

    This is the same school that dropped the term 'freshman' in 2009, in order to replace it with more 'gender inclusive terms' for first-year students, so they are nothing if not mindful of the latest progressive sociological woo.

    Back to the reason he went into academia - the money. He says he is the most cited author in his department but ranks 18th out of 28 in pay and even makes less than an associate professor in the group. Writing Science Left Behind, Alex Berezow and I had to address the shocking lack of diversity in faculty and tenure-track jobs at American schools; not representation and outreach for women, academia is downright Utopian for women compared to the climate for conservatives and handicapped people, who are obviously blocked out.  The rationalization for why there is so little political diversity in the last 25 years is instead that it is a 'choice' and non-left people choose to do corporate jobs because of more money. When $107,000 is 18th in one department at one public school, people are not absent from academia because of the money.

    Who is on his side? Other professors obviously.  If you can be in an Argentinian jail for 9 months and still get paid, it will be downright revolutionary for other professors who want to jet off to foreign countries and meet their own bikini models and maybe 'telecommute' for a year or two.  Frampton contends he can work just as hard from an Argentinian jail as he ever did; he can 'think' and then give students advice over the telephone and still get his name put on papers.

    That's probably true.


    Let's all think about this: his alleged behavior would be terrible if true, but you said he has not been convicted yet, right? Oh, except earlier you forgot to add that little word ALLEGED that will keep you and Science 2.0 from getting sued. This guy is clearly well connected.

    Nice work!

    I'm not sure of your point. He has not denied he had cocaine in his suitcase, they found the cocaine in his checked luggage and he said he got the luggage from a man who wanted him to carry it. He is instead falling back on the 'I am a doddering old fool who just wants to be loved' defense - while he asks for his salary to be doubled.
    Living in Durham, NC it is painful to read about this abomination referred to as a college.

    Go Blue Devils
    Randall Mayes
    I had to laugh at "Moeser said despite all the upper-level resignations, things are still pretty normal on the Carolina campus. He says for now, the changes do not impact most students and staff in their daily activities."

    That's exactly the problem.  If it is normal for a teacher to get paid a $12,000 fee to show up the first day of class and declare it 'independent study' and tells students to write a paper and present it at the end of the semester, losing the teachers who do it and the administrators who create that climate has no impact at all on students - it only impacts their student loans, since the 18th highest paid guy in one department is still over $100,000.
    Hmmmm....I thought that the article was not very well researched. When you say ""imprisoned drug-smuggling physicist"", I would have expected you to tell us what charges he was convicted of. And if you think that being a highly cited physics professor gives you street smarts, you are the foolish one my friend! Try to find out what really happened before you come out writing an article about it.

    When you say ""imprisoned drug-smuggling physicist"", I would have expected you to tell us what charges he was convicted of.
    I'll try to be more clear.  Instead of writing 'imprisoned drug-smuggling physicist' I could say he is a physicist in prison for drug-smuggling.  And instead of 'Why is he in jail? Smuggling cocaine in his suitcase.'  I can try 'he is in jail for smuggling cocaine in his suitcase'.  
    I find it absolutely likely that his entire story of how he came to Argentina and got arrested for smuggling was true. The man isn't really well in the head. He did see fit to write this afterall:

    I have to confess, it is the first time I have seen 'festschrift' is anything claiming to be a science paper.  It goes to show that people who think arXiv is not really 'open' are crazy.  This paper is nonsense and it got posted.

    It got posted for the same reason that peer reviewed literature is not "open". He is established already! I can assure you, arXiv, and I have published there since the very beginning when it was still open, is no longer open to anything but whatever already established writers submit, whatever nonsense it is. That does not mean that an unknown would be able to post anything of value, for which it would have to be "open".
    I was trying to be a little sarcastic, since that paper was clearly a love letter to Murray and not much else. 

    Although the forensic psychologist's diagnosis of "a schizoid personality disorder that prevents him from making normal social connections and renders him unusually gullible" sounds fishy, he may be simply overreacting to his divorce. It's not the first time he's gone fishing for women overseas. Someone who has been described by friends as being as naive as a child could, while being obsessed with sex, get duped into carrying drugs in a suitcase's false bottom.

    By that standard, said Glashow, the Nobel laureate, Frampton may be guilty, but it’s not even faintly possible that he would knowingly get involved in drugs, either for profit or personal use.
    “He doesn’t even drink, except perhaps wine with dinner, and he’s concerned about his health and goes to a gym,” Glashow said. “He is completely dedicated to his research and his students, and for the moment, since his divorce, to chasing girls.”
    Frampton once persuaded a Chinese woman in her 20s to marry him, but when he flew to China she took one look at him and backed out........................Read more here:

    He might not deserve full pay, but hopefully his cocaine story is true, and he can go back to his job humbled. Meanwhile none of this would be an issue if drugs were legalized.

    Beer is legal, but you can't take large quantities of it and export it to Canada.  You can't even take large quantities over state lines.  

    Yes, he is batty when it comes to the delusion that young women know who the 18th most successful guy in the UNC Chapel Hill theoretical physics department is and desire him - I never heard of him but he has 8,000 citations, he says. Still, the law does not exempt goofy people or else every drug smuggler would claim to be goofy.  I don't think he is a drug dealer, of course. 
    I don't see your point. You seem resentful that he is paid over $100K and you seem to believe that at the age of 75 this man has turned into a real life Walter White (Breaking Bad). I have never heard of this man til now but I see he has somewhere in the realm of 200 pubs listed on Google scholar, (I couldn't find yours btw). His name appears first on most them as well I notice. I sense if he were a physician you would find it acceptable for him to be making a $Million per year because after all he spent so many years and so much money to get there. I have a cleaning business so I essentially scrub toilets for living and make well over $100K . To me anyone who starts a paper with "TheN-loop dual graphs are classified and enumerated in terms of integration contours on a sphere withN handles." is priced bargain basement at $200K. If just one student comes to study under him thats $160K to the university just in tuition. Plus any intellectual property he generates becomes the property of the university. If his work leads to new laser or something the numbers could be mindboggling.

    It is also my experience that guys who can write sentences like that are short on interpersonal skills, lonely, and easily duped. I have to believe anyone that smart is capable of coming up with a far better idea to move coke than the lining of a suitcase. I know I could and I bet even you could.

    I didn't say he was setting out to be a drug dealer, I said he has been sitting in jail for 9 months so arguing his salary should be doubled is silly.  I have no issue with him making $100K a year - yayyyy, capitalism.

    Arguing that the billions of taxpayer dollars that go to academia is profitable for the government is an odd claim - if it were true, we could simply turn all of the money over controlled by the government to universities and magically run a budget surplus.  If the 18th highest paid person in one department of one college of one university is over $100K, it explains why during the recession college tuitions have still gone up 28%.
    I would have found this article more informative if it was properly fact checked and if the bold statements followed some sort of logical consistency. First, he's 68, not 75. Second, requesting to receive similar compensation as other people with a similar performance record does not mean you choice the job for the money. It means you chose a career notoriously underpaid, proved your worth, and want to get the same pay as other people who have proven their worth. There may be little diversity in academia when it comes to politics and religious affiliation, but it's not because they are blocked out. The conservative and faithful I have met get along just as well as those that lean left and/or have no religious affiliations. Academics on average are paid well below 100k/year. In fact, a physics PhD can expect to make around 50k a year if they stay in academia, and about 85k/year if they go to industry. I'll save you the trouble of fact checking and just show you the link

    Fixed on the age.  Everything else, though, is your opinion.  Now, do I agree?  Probably. I also do not agree there is a problem with female and minority representation in academic science and I wish more people would accept that liberal academia is not prejudiced against people. However, since virtually all of academia, including the funding institutions, dispute your claim representation is choice - to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars in outreach and awareness programs - well, we are stuck with the consensus. Dispute the NSF and the NIH and everyone else if you disagree that sometimes career opportunities are not choice.

    Academia is not underpaid. 30 years ago, sure, but it is simply not the case now. Instead, a disproportionate people want to go into academia because, in the words of that important scientific reference "Ghostbuster", "I've been in the private sector. They expect results." That brings down post-doc earnings but the solution to that is to stop the 'we need more scientists' cultural fetish. Even both presidential candidates said that exact same thing, despite only 16% of the PhDs produced now being employable in academia.

    I can't accept your anecdotal claim that all these professsors and PIs make $50 a year - because you are are flat out wrong, unless you are counting third world countries.  The AIP is using a web-based survey to generate that graph and you take it as rigorous fact, but if it said post-docs make $200K a year you would look at it more critically because that would defy your confirmation bias. Now, perhaps state schools are exceptional and pay a lot more. Perhaps UNC is exceptional among state schools.  But if the 18th highest paid guy in one department in one college of one university makes over $100K, and it is so much higher than everyone else, he certainly does not deserve to have it doubled.
    Academic fields dominated by white males, such as physics, engineering, math, and even philosophy, have a huge bias against women and racial minorities. There are studies to back that up, which is why funding agencies spend money to try to fix the problem. And yes, it's a real bias, and a real problem. Don't believe me? Take a CV that produces a hire at one college, slap a woman's name on it and see if it produces a hire in a similar college. Oh wait, they've already conducted that study. Women need twice the credentials as a man to get hired for the same job in a STEM field. I know of no such studies on political diversity. if you can show me one, I may change my mind.

    We do need more scientists, but more importantly, we need more people who are scientifically literate. Does you 16% refer to all PhDs, those in science, or those in physics?

    The study referred to in the link is not an anecdotal claim, it's a scientific study based on real numbers. I should have specified (although it was specified in the title of the graph) that they are starting salaries for physics PhDs just out of grad school -- not professors or PIs, and yes they are US salaries. I never said he deserved to have his salary doubled, I just said his desire to be paid the same as other people in similar positions didn't necessarily mean that he entered the field just for the money as you claimed.

    So you think academia is biased against women and minorities, despite their representation being quite high compared to right wing people (and handicapped people) but on the latter you contend it is choice.  See, I sort of knew you would say that based on your first comment.  You are completely wrong, but I know how you vote.

    And yes, there have been studies done showing bias against right wing people - I wrote a book you can buy which contains a chapter on that and plenty of other things, but your confirmation bias means you won't. Plus, it should be obvious if 'a person in power tends to pick people like them', which is your rationale for why women are slightly fewer in physical sciences.  Women are overwhelmingly dominant in the social sciences and education - are men discriminated against there? Or is it only possible for women and minorities to be discriminated against, and not men or Republicans?  If so, you should write for MSNBC.
    When $107,000 is 18th in one department at one public school, people are not absent from academia because of the money.
    That does not even count what they divert from research grants, all for good reasons of course, like conferences in places where others only dream of ever going. Perhaps time to not just use this as something about left/right issues that sell well, but more fundamentally about what it means for "science" and academia. Certain statisticians (pretend particle physicists) support the deception about that scientists are not in for the money if they tell us, for example, how vital the LHC is for humankind.
    I can't speak for outside the US but in the US an associate professor compensation package last year was, on average, $112,000. So that includes physicists and people doing gender studies, whatever that is.  It is hardly the case that it is a poorly paying job and therefore greedy right wing people choose to do something else.  I remain baffled that anyone claims it is certain that academics are prejudiced against women and minorities and also certain that academics are not prejudiced against people politically different, when the numbers are so obvious and it is a recent phenomenon (last 25 years).