Anthony Watts Starts Up Cloud Based Anti-Science Organization

The Open Atmospheric Society

Climate science pseudo-skeptic Anthony Watts recently bought and registered the domain "" and has just announced the formation at that Internet address of a new society explicitly designed to organize people in meteorology and related areas intent on opposing the scientific consensus on climate change. And yes, there is a scientific consensus on climate change.

Dr. Roy Spencer once said to me that trying to organize climate skeptics would be like “trying to herd cats”. While this Society is not trying to “herd” anyone, nor is it specifically focused on climate skepticism, it will serve to represent a group of people and ideas that up until now has been essentially ostracized because the ideas and viewpoints are counter to “consensus”.

Secret Society, Just Like The Illuminati?

Membership in the society will be secret. The eventual plan is to be a non-profit. There will not be a board of directors initially but eventualy one will be formed of five members plus Anthony (ex-officio) and representation from among non-full members. The process of electing board members has not yet been determined.

Associate membership will be $45, with additional membership categories designed on one hand to allow student members and on the other hand to raise more funds (lifetime membership, etc.).

A Scientific Society Designed To Oppose Science?

This organization, explicitly designed as a group opposing scientific consensus, will operate a peer reviewed scientific journal, the editor of which will be initially appointed by the board apparently from a short list provided by Executive Director Anthony Watts. From the Charter:

Article IX: Scientific Journal

Section 1. The OAS shall have an official publication, to be known as The Journal of the Open Atmospheric Society. (JOAS). An ISSN number will be applied for and assigned to the publication.

Section 1.1 Members of the OAS as well as others of expertise outside of the OAS may serve as peer review referees for potential publications for inclusion in JOAS.

Section 1.2 A collaborative and open peer-review process will be conducted using an Internet publishing platform. Reviewer comments will be published along with the publication itself so that the process is transparent.

Section 1.3 Digital Object Identifiers (DOI’s) will be assigned by the JOAS Editor to each approved publication.

Section 2. An editor to JOAS shall be appointed. During the first six months of operations, the Executive Director will solicit candidates to present to the board of directors. The Board of Directors shall conduct online video interviews and appoint a qualified editor for JOAS by a majority vote from the candidate pool. The editor may be a compensated position, with any compensation schedule to be determined by the Board of Directors

Section 3. Initially, JOAS will be a quarterly publication. As membership and interest grows, the Board of Directors may opt to make it a bi-monthly or monthly publication.

Section 4. The goal of JOAS is to promote and publish reproducible Atmospheric and Earth science papers. To that end, all technical submissions to JOAS must be accompanied by all manner and means of materials to enable such reproduction during peer review. This includes all data, equations, software code, examples and supplementary materials. Rebuttals to technical submissions must also meet the same requirements. Editorial submissions such as opinion or commentary that don’t have such technical elements may be excepted from reproducibility requirements, but the JOAS has the option of asking for any additional materials that may be required.

Science or Fundraising?

So far the effort has raised $330. But Watts has high hopes:

Right now, membership is the most important goal. I encourage everyone who reads WUWT to become a member, or an associate member. Like any organization, it starts out small with an idea, and grows as momentum builds. As the momentum builds, so will the organization. My role is to put all the pieces in place, and help it grow.

Another Anti-Science Stab at Peer Review?

This new organization is well timed, in that there have been significant setbacks to the science denialist community's efforts in wedging into the peer reviewed process. I am reminded of a quote by Winston Churchill:

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

And another quote made famous by Rita Mae Brown:

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.

The announcement for the new society is here.

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How can they have an aim "to oppose the scientific consensus"? That's deeply stupid.

I mean, if they're successful they'll become 'the scientific consensus' and then, by definition, have to oppose themselves! Clearly they're lacking in logic. But then I guess that'll be a condition of membership.

By johnrussell40 (not verified) on 17 Sep 2014 #permalink

Watts is a entrepreneur, climate misinformation is his milieu, and this is his retirement plan.

A phony "peer reviewed" journal is hardly a new trick--creationists and holocaust deniers have both tried it over the years--but it does cost money to get one going even if it's entirely electronic. I wonder if he has a corporate sugar-daddy lined up yet.

By John McKay (not verified) on 17 Sep 2014 #permalink

Johnrussell40: Exactly, they would have to create a new version of themselves. a widget factory built for the mass production of crank-brained, cymbal-banging, wind-up monkeys that will take over the world and make Anthony Watts their Emperor of Stylized Displays and Imperious Postures. See 'Narcissism'.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 17 Sep 2014 #permalink

Fortunately, I can think of few LESS effective ways to sway the public than a secret society that you pay to get in to.

By Young CC Prof (not verified) on 17 Sep 2014 #permalink

You obviously have no idea how powerful we, I mean, The Illuminati, are.

@#5, Obstrep: Shouldn't that read, "wind-up flying monkeys"... Will they have a Minister of Silly Walks to attend to their emperor? They certainly have their Norwegian Blue...

@#7, Greg: You must mean, "The Illiterati"... As powerful as a dim bulb. (Don't they glow real bright just before they flare out?)

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 17 Sep 2014 #permalink

@#1: To be fair, Mr. Laden styles them as opposing a scientific consensus. Nothing in the links themselves have them profess themselves as opposing consensus. Thus, there is no inherent problem should present minority views become the consensus.

This is a good thing. Scientific theories must be testable and experiments must be replicable. If they can prove their theories and other scientists, including those in the present consensus, can replicate their work, then science will have been progressed. If theories are untestable and experiments unreplicable, then those theories will be shown in error and, again, science will have been progressed.

Neither do I understand why Mr. Laden refers to it as a secret society. I read the charter; there is no mention of secret membership. Further, by its own terms, it is promoting transparency. Published articles will, presumably, bear the names of the authors. That would seem to directly contradict claims of secrecy.

Perhaps they will prove anthropogenic climate change or disprove it through the scientific method. We shall wait and see.

By Jay Wolman (not verified) on 17 Sep 2014 #permalink

To be fair, the charter explicitly states opposing the scientific consensus and that is documented in my post. Same with the secrecy of membership. You are simply wrong.

I think 45$ is rather cheap to get some bullshit published but, then again, any bullshit probably won't do, but they're likely specifically selecting articles that look like scientific bullshit, so maybe a discount is needed to get this satirical piece of bullshit going. Attempting to make satire of bullshit is of course a culturally a sisyphean task, so I'm not judging this bullshit prematurely.

The $45 is nit a publication fee. That would probably be different.

Jay Wolman, considering the fact that Anthony Watts is heavily promoting to his readership and has urged them to become members (although many will not be able to become regular members, only "associates"), the journal publishing anything that would prove the existence of AGW, or worse, that it is a real problem that needs to be tackled, would immediately cause an uproar amongst the WUWT-part of the membership.

@#10, the charter speaks of membership "information" being private, not necessarily the membership list. Publication and meeting will demonstrate who members are. You are over reading. The charter does not state that it is opposing scientific consensus.Here is what it actually says:

The goal of JOAS is to promote and publish reproducible Atmospheric and Earth science papers. To that end, all technical submissions to JOAS must be accompanied by all manner and means of materials to enable such reproduction during peer review. This includes all data, equations, software code, examples and supplementary materials. Rebuttals to technical submissions must also meet the same requirements. Editorial submissions such as opinion or commentary that don’t have such technical elements may be excepted from reproducibility requirements, but the JOAS has the option of asking for any additional materials that may be required.

#12, perhaps you may be proved right, but pre-judging the outcome is certainly not in accord with how science is done.

By Jay Wolman (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

In reply to by Marco (not verified)

Jay, Watts has never done science the way it should be done - he is a science denier through and through, as a sampling of items throughout his blog shows.
Based on that history, and his history of unpleasant responses to people who dare to point out that his, and his allies' postings are incorrect, there is no reasonable basis whatsoever for believing his newest endeavor will be anything other than another spot for denialists to spew misinformation, results based on cherry-picked portions of large data sets, and outright falsehoods.
For most reasonable assessors, he has used up all of his chances at being considered a reputable commentator.

Jay, you may be correct about "information" vs. membership. Hard to say. Good point, though. Regarding consensus I quote Anthony Watt's words above. The term consensus does not appear in the charter, just in Watt's statement about why he is doing this.

"perhaps you may be proved right, but pre-judging the outcome is certainly not in accord with how science is done."

This is a blog post about a guy starting up a new organization. It is not science. It is observation, commentary, speculation, etc. That applies as well to comments here.

For Einstein the operation of Science was that One Fact was sufficient to refute an opposing consensus of 100 scientists."

"The rising Nazi movement found a convenient target in relativity, branding it “Jewish physics” and sponsoring conferences and book burnings to denounce Einstein and his theories. The Nazis enlisted other physicists, including Nobel laureates Philipp Lenard and Johannes Stark, to denounce Einstein. One Hundred Authors Against Einstein was published in 1931. When asked to comment on this denunciation of relativity by so many scientists, Einstein replied that to defeat relativity one did not need the word of 100 scientists, just one fact."

The Open Atmospheric Society charter shows it seeks to pursue science by establishing objective verifiable facts.

Today's "consensus" models are unable to account for the two decade "pause" quantified by Ross McKitrick (2014) McKitrick, R. (2014) HAC-Robust Measurement of the Duration of a Trendless Subsample in a Global Climate Time Series. Open Journal of Statistics, 4, 527-535. doi: 10.4236/ojs.2014.47050.
Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman described scientific integrity:
"It's a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty--a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you're doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid--not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you've eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked--to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can--if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong--to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

In summary, the idea is to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgement in one particular direction or another."

Support Fenman's standard of Scientific Integrity and Einstein's standard of objective science based on facts.

By David L. Hagen (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

David L. Hagen @17... You're missing some open and close parenthesis there somewhere. It's completely impossible to tell what, if any of that, is said by you, personally, or whether the whole thing is just a cut-and-paste job.

The Einstein "one scientific fact" ruse used by deniers (as in, those who deny the overwhelming body of scientific research; they're not skeptics) is a gross misinterpretation of what he was saying. It would be equivalent to saying that, all someone has to do is provide one fact that shows that CO2 has no radiative properties.

In fact, over the course of the decades since Einstein published his first papers on relativity, there have been a great many experiments that have modified the theory. Does that mean Einstein was wrong? You tell me.

By Rob Honeycutt (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

Some of the comments to that announcement are interesting. Paul Coppin inquires, "Maybe somebody in authority should elaborate on why the membership joining process is subdomained to The domain is owned by a Russian in Toronto and one in Moscow. (not that I’m suggesting anything – just wary…)"

Anthony Watts replies: "It is there because that is the membership engine. Rather than try to create/manage membership ourselves (and the security risks such things entail) we opted to use this service to manage it. They are well established and based In Toronto. See:

"Your objections to the domain name are akin to not trusting Steve McIntyre because he’s in Toronto.

"We had originally contracted with a company called Non Profit Easy in Santa Rosa, CA, but they botched the execution of the process, wasting months of time, and could not provide some basic features we felt were needed without “customizing” the code. We didn’t want to risk that, so went with this well established membership system instead."

It would be even more interesting to know who "we" is in this case. This operation is going to soak up a big chunk of cash; I'd like to know who is bankrolling it. It's pretty clear Watts himself doesn't have the resources to do so.

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

Several commenters lament the "politicization" of the AMS. And Joel O'Bryan declares, "I am strongly considering dropping my AAAS membership when it comes for renewal in January. The AAAS has become the AAAPS, the Am. Assoc. for the Advancement of Politicized Science with its publication in Spring 2014 of “What We Know” alarmism. “What We Know” was really “What we thought we knew” that was relevant to 2005-2006, but no longer. It was so sad to see that from AAAS, and I realize how corrupted Alan Leshner and Marcia McNutt allowed that august organization to become."

Somebody calling themselves "nankerphelge" predicts, "It will be interesting to observe the terror campaign that will no doubt be started to discredit OAS."

Here we see the tribalism so prevalent among those who follow WUWT. It calls to mind Harry Truman's well-known statement: "I never gave 'em hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell."

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

David Hagen, if you have any statistical knowledge, you should read this (including the comments, especially those of Dikran Marsupial):

There is a good reason McKitrick published in a predatory open access journal: any statistician worth his money would point out that he's making an enormous error: testing for a hiatus requires your null hypothesis to be that there is no hiatus.

WRONG moron, it's



Try again!

Anyone who expects integrity from Watts should recall his behavior in connection with the Berkley temperature study. The study was led by Richard Muller, whose previous criticisms of climate science encouraged Watts to believe that the study would deliver the denier goods. Watts declared, “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.“ When the results did prove his premise wrong, Watts rejected the findings. Had he accepted them, his followers would have abandoned him.

I hope the project gets off the ground. It's so rooted in Watts' hubris and self-importance, that it promises many hours of mordant satire.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink


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By cosmicomics (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

Oops. The first comment didn't seem to go through. Please delete.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

"Watts rejected the findings."


Elsewhere someone pointed out that the Latin motto (Verum in Luce) is incorrect (should be Veritas in Luce) Latin. Any Latin experts here able to confirm or deny this?

"Given project leader Muller's well-publicised concerns regarding of the quality of climate change research, other critics anticipated that the Berkeley Earth study would be a vindication of their stance. For example when the study team was announced, blogger Anthony Watts, who popularized several of the issues addressed by the Berkeley Earth group study, stated[19]
'I'm prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong. The method isn't the madness that we’ve seen from NOAA, NCDC, GISS, and CRU. That lack of strings attached to funding, plus the broad mix of people involved especially those who have previous experience in handling large data sets gives me greater confidence in the result being closer to a bona fide ground truth than anything we’ve seen yet.'
When the initial results were released, and found to support the existing consensus, the study was widely decried. Watts spoke to the New York Times, which wrote: 'Mr. Watts ... contended that the study's methodology was flawed because it examined data over a 60-year period instead of the 30-year-one that was the basis for his research and some other peer-reviewed studies. He also noted that the report had not yet been peer-reviewed and cited spelling errors as proof of sloppiness.' ”

“ 'The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project puts PR before peer review' (2011-10-20).
Remember the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) study begun by the “reliable” Dr. Richard Muller? Their results are in and it seems Anthony Watts has been run over by reality and taken away by the wahhhhhambulance.
Back in March Anthony seemed sure that the BEST study would be free of the corruption, manipulation and deception, unlike everything the thousands of other climate scientists had produced. He declared that he was 'prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong.'
Suddenly, for some reason, Anthony’s tune has changed. Now Anthony is disgusted by Dr. Muller’s “media blitz” of his results. Results that, inconveniently, confirm all the conventional analyses of modern temperature trends and completely gut Anthony’s years of false criticisms.
Did you know that 'Not one of the BEST papers have completed peer review'? It’s sort of true! Never mind that Anthony spent literally years falsely pre-announcing that his own amateur surface-stations “study” would prove that the rising temperature trend in the USA was the product of biased weather station choice and changing urban environments. Never mind that releasing pre-publication versions of scientific papers is a widespread practice, and never mind that the paper that Anthony was eventually able to help produce couldn’t support his own claims.
Did you know that 'a basic procedural error that has been discovered in the methodology that will likely require a rework of the data and calculations, and thus the conclusions may also change'? Eagle-eyed Anthony has discovered that Dr. Muller used too much data! The first rule of cherry picking is to ignore as much data as possible, don’t you know.”…

The post cited above contains embedded links to WUWT, as well as links to other articles that discuss the study.

When the peer-reviewed paper was published, Watts' criticism was that it was done in a new journal. He used any excuse he could find to avoid keeping his word.

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 18 Sep 2014 #permalink

Reading that as $45 a donation, that means he's close to being able to purchase 112 milliseconds of broadcast time during the next Superbowl to spread his gospel.

By Brainstorms (not verified) on 19 Sep 2014 #permalink

If the leaders of the scientific community jumped off of a cliff, would you? Just because the 'consensus' is that global warming is real doesn't make it fact.

Actually, yes, it really does make it a fact. Let me explain.

First, scientist jumping off a cliff is no consensus, it is some sort of sport perhaps. But scientific thought is not a joke, or a last minute whim. Your analogy is not relevant.

A scientific consensus is where virtually every expert in the field comes to the same conclusion based on evidence sufficiently strong to be very convincing, after that evidence and those conclusions have been through the mill a couple of times and the scientists are convinced that there are no hidden surprises. That pretty much is what a fact is.

We usually use the word "fact" for simpler things, but it applies here.

One thing a lot f people are missing is that there is not a singe scientific consensus on each and every aspect of climate change. There is a lot of uncertainty, and there is disagreement. Here are a few examples.

What are the factors that cause an El Nino to start and what regulates its cycle? This is important because it relates to how heat goes in and out in a large part of a major ocean basin.

What causes jet streams and trade winds, in the middle attitudes, to be shaped the way they usually are and how does waviness form? Many suspect this is a function of the Arctic, some say the North Pacific, no one is sure; there is uncertainty and disagreement. This is important because it tell us about the connection between climate change and certain weather events.

What is the roe of the Atlantic in trapping heat? This is a new controversy; people are starting to learn about it now.

How do global scale conveyor currents turn on and off or change configuration over time?

If all the rationalizing, group-think ditto-heads over at Watts World are leading people off a cliff will you follow?

Just because some gas bags are making fun noise on the denialist bandwagon doesn't make it factual.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 20 Sep 2014 #permalink

Although I would not be surprised if "Big Jim" is doing the usual drive-by, if per chance he is reading anyway (or others with similar concerns), consider the following situation:

You have a beam in your house that you would like to remove, to open up your living room. You invite 10 engineers, of which 8 warn that this may be a support beam. Most are certain it is, some are not completely certain without some further analysis, but still think it is most likely.

One engineer tells you that he disagrees. The beam may be a support, but there are plenty of other support beams, and even if those are not enough, you will have plenty of time to take action when the house indeed starts to collapse.

The last engineer tells you there is no such thing as a support beam, and air pressure is enough to keep the rest of the house from collapsing.

What will you do?

The following comment was written by Andrew Lohmann and appeared in Climate Science Watch. I'm quoting it in its entirety, because it's one of the most eloquent and intelligent statements on scientific consensus I've seen.

“Andrew Lohmann says:
January 27, 2013 at 6:16 pm
I'd like to step back just a second and address the nature of science in general.
When we are capable of conducting experiments, then we don't really have to be concerned (as much) about "scientific consensus." We have experimental data to support our conclusions.
However, there are vast swaths of scientific investigation that do not lend themselves to experimental testing. We cannot experiment on volcanic activity or climate change. Another example is our capacity to experiment on human behavior, which is quite restricted (and thankfully so).
To search for truth under these circumstances, we rely on inferential statistics. We collect data and then infer the likelihood of whether anything we find was "real" or an artifact of chance. The point here is that no single study, no single aspect of research is by itself completely reliable. There is a margin or potential error. The real strength of the findings comes about through replication of the research using new data, and replication of the findings using different observational approaches.
Here's the key: Any individual program of research will have weaknesses. But, when taken collectively -- the aggregate research, by multiple scientists looking at the same question from multiple angles -- those weaknesses are diminished, since other individual research projects won't have replicated those weaknesses.
So, ultimately, to say we should ignore "consensus" is to say we should ignore the science. When a whole lot of research, all using different methods, point in the same direction (the results converge to the same conclusion), the proper response is to ask "what is the likelihood of all these results not being real, given the weight of the evidence."
That said, there will never be a 100% level of confidence. What I would love is for skeptics to tell us what level of confidence they require before they accept the consensus. How I would love for just one reporter to ask Mr. Inhofe (or any other denialist) "Please, what level of evidence would you accept as substantial enough that human caused climate change is real?" Without this last question answered, then there is no role for science on the denialist side.”…

By cosmicomics (not verified) on 20 Sep 2014 #permalink

Please define "level of confidence".

By st (not verified) on 20 Sep 2014 #permalink

In reply to by cosmicomics (not verified)

100% means certainly, 0% means certainly not, and the in-between numbers are in-between.

Let us compare consensus in two different areas:
1) the climate one
2) the medical one that nicotine is addictive and smoking causes diseases

Which of these is a stronger consensus
-among researchers who actually do the work?
-among the general public?
-among legislators?

By John Mashey (not verified) on 20 Sep 2014 #permalink

John left out an important subgroup:

- among those people who accept money from a lobbygroup whose purpose it is to oppose the dissemination of knowledge.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 21 Sep 2014 #permalink

johnrussell40: The consensus is .5% of scientists, 65 scientists. There definitely is a consensus of ignorance about Cook's survey among AGW-alarmists. The first thing he did was throw out the 2/3 of abstracts he found in his search using 'global warming' and 'climate change' because they din't mention AGW. Then he threw out the 17% of that 2/3 who mentioned AGW but didn't support it. Then he threw out the abstracts that authors said were misclassified. Read it.
You wanna buy a bridge?
NASA showed that CO2 reflects radiation and cools the earth almost 2 years ago. The 31,400 scientists who signed the Oregon petition project petition are smart enough to know a scam when they see one.

NASA Study Proves Carbon Dioxide Cools
H. Schreuder & J. O'Sullivan Atmosphere Principia Scientific International ^ March 26, 2013
NASA's Langley Research Center has collated data proving that “greenhouse gases” actually block up to 95 percent of harmful solar rays from reaching our planet, thus reducing the heating impact of the sun.CO2 and NO are natural thermostats," says James Russell from Hampton University, who was one of the lead investigators for the groundbreaking SABER study. "When the upper atmosphere (or 'thermosphere') heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.

By Mollie Norris (not verified) on 13 Oct 2014 #permalink

@Mollie #42

My heart sank as I saw your references to known 'sky-dragon slayers'. The people you choose to follow are conspiracy theorists. See and

Not only that, but the grandiose-sounding 'Principia Scientific International' is a front run by John O'Sullivan to publish hard core climate denial; so hardcore that even most fake sceptics think it's run by nutters. Even Lord Monckton described O'Sullivan as “confused and scientifically illiterate”. For once I find myself agreeing with him. Don't you?

Last, I'm guessing you publish links to NASA to somehow legitimise your comment. Here's what NASA really says about CO2:

By johnrussell40 (not verified) on 13 Oct 2014 #permalink

My, this socio-economic site is clearly mis-labeled...probably read by the same folks who think "An Inconvenient Truth" belongs in the science section of a public library. Authored by the man who thinks the center of planet Earth is millions of degrees. Sheesh.

By Wharfplank (not verified) on 05 Sep 2016 #permalink

socio-economic site? is that a new dogwhistle?