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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Verum in obscuro no more: Is OAS, WUWT's secretive open society about to reveal itself to the world?

Sou | 12:09 AM Go to the first of 18 comments. Add a comment

Every now and then at WUWT there is a hopeful comment (usually unanswered) asking about the mysterious society: "The Open Atmospheric Society" or OAS (but not the other OAS). There is irony in the name, because despite the word "open", as far as I am aware not a single person has ever been identified as a founder or board member or executive director or other employee. It's a secret open society.

But all that secrecy is about to end. Today's the day when all should be revealed. Here's some background to whet your appetite and tide you over while you wait with breathless anticipation.


Turn on the light?


I wrote about the OAS (here and here) when Anthony Watts of the WUWT blog, put out a call for members last September. You'll recall that the society has a motto, which I'm guessing Anthony got from Google translate, because "Verum in Luce" is not a very good translation of "Truth in Light".  (I think he probably meant Veritas in Luce.)

Whatever he meant - the light hasn't been turned on at OAS yet. All that is about to change, according to its charter.


The mystery of the founder(s)


Apart from various WUWT readers who said they were signing on, there have only been five names associated with the OAS:
  • Stephen and Dr. Mary Graves, were listed as seed funders, although the money may have come from Stephen And Mary Graves Familyfoundation
  • John Coleman and Joseph D'Aleo, both of whom gave testimonials in the press release announcing its opening, but neither indicated they had any formal relationship with the "society". 
  • Anthony Watts announced it at WUWT, but did not indicate whether or not he had any formal association with the society or its founding, not even when asked directly.  (Though as I recall he is listed on the web domain registers as the admin and general dogsbody for the web pages.)

Not counting the seed funding donors, who probably aren't all that interested, only two of the other three people qualify for full membership - Joseph D'Aleo and Anthony Watts. Anthony just sneaks in, I discovered, with his Fall et al paper, plus a very poor article in Nature Climate Change (not an original piece of work, just a comment on another paper), and by getting his name added to a very long list of authors of an obscure Essay in BAMS, which is a forgettable article that seems to have come from a workshop run by Roger Pielke Sr.


Verum in obscuro?


Though we may never find out who the founders are, you're all probably itching to learn about the people who'll be running the show. The Board of Directors would be in place by now (required by 1 January 2015).  So we'll no doubt hear the big splash shortly. The Board will have appointed the Executive Director (or will be shortly) . (According to its Charter, the OAS commenced operation on 1 July 2014 and "There shall be a nomination process and election to form the OAS Board of Directors within 6 months of the OAS commencing operation.")

On the other hand, we haven't heard a peep from the OAS in months. Maybe it's changing its motto to Verum in Obscuro.

There's another possibility I guess.


The "days and weeks" roll by and still no OAS Journal?


One other thing that's not yet appeared is a journal. You may recall that back in September, Anthony promised:
It also aims to provide a professional peer reviewed publication platform to produce an online journal with a unique and important requirement placed up-front for any paper submitted; it must be replicable, with all data, software, formulas, and methods submitted with the paper. Without those elements, the paper will be rejected. 

I'm thinking they might need to relax that requirement. It's a bit much to ask WUWT-ers to produce a replicable paper, with all data, software, formulas and methods that doesn't look like a complete joke. Not even Anthony Watts can recognise replicability when it hits him in the face.

The grand "press release" back in September, went on to state that:
Further announcements, calls for papers, and organizational notices will be posted in the coming days and weeks

And the days and weeks have rolled on by with no further announcements, except for a lone, silly and wrong press release. Even then Anthony had to be prompted before putting any name to it.

So we wait patiently and not for much longer. The OAS and its journal might be a roaring success. When the OAS lifts its veil of secrecy (later today? early next week?) we may all be pleasantly surprised.


18 comments:

Captain Flashheart said...

I note this from the page on publishing:

It is open to full members for publishing scientific papers, letters, and rebuttals, and to associate and student members based on meeting publications requirements and a vote from the OAS publishing committee.

This is extremely unusual for a scientific journal. As far as I know there is no significant scientific journal that only publishes material from its members. Many are not even affiliated with a specific organization (isn't Nature just a private for-profit company!?) The OAS is actually a closed club, not "open" in any way!

Mike Pollard said...

The OAS seems to have 52 email "followers" and is still at $330 in donations; that's assuming those figures are being updated in real time. Dec 31st was also the final date to be a founding member, damn missed it! I'd be very surprised if Watts, Coleman etc could make a society and a journal work at any level, its by no means a small amount of work.

Raymond Arritt said...

Membership in the American Meteorological Society is open to "persons having demonstrable professional or scholarly expertise in the atmospheric or related sciences, technologies, applications, or services whether or not this expertise is a source of livelihood." No requirements for degrees in specific fields, or numbers of publications.

Membership in the AMS is more "open" than it is for the Open Atmospheric Society.

William Connolley said...

@CF: I'm pretty sure PNAS (and Proc Royal Soc) originated, and may still largely be, papers-by-members. Indeed I'm pretty sure Proc Royal Soc originally published any old junk, as long as it had actually been presented at a meeting. So perhaps the OAS could advertise itself as going Baxter Basics?

Ned said...

@WMC: Maybe so, but it's a bit odd to feature the word "Open" so prominently in their name if the journal is not in fact "open" to anyone except club members.

Of course the name is irrelevant anyway, since (a) the "journal" may never actually appear and (b) if it ever does publish an issue it's not likely they'd be receiving submissions from people outside the WUWTiverse anyway.

William Connolley said...

It would perhaps have been fun to troll it: join under assumed names, get appointed editor (its not as if there's much competition), and publish worthwhile stuff instead :-)

adelady said...

Glad you said that. I was thinking along the same lines and castigating myself for evil impulses. Now I realise that a lot of people would - for a moment at least - rub their hands in glee at this passing fancy.

BBD said...

W. Ermine & A. Ciudad-Iglesias ed.

metzomagic said...

Let's kick off the 2015 AGW discussion in the right spirit...

William, the editorship is yours, if you can just supply the 'correct' answers to the following 'simple' questions:

1. Coming out of a glaciation period, does the rise in CO2 lead or lag the rise in temperature? Explain in 5 words or less, and show your work.

2. Has mankind contributed significantly to the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations since ca. 1750? For extra credit, supply your interpretation of the word 'significant'.

3. Does the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect invalidate the modern thermometer temperature record? Or, going back a bit, what about dinosaur flatulence?

That'll do for the moment. Oh, also:

4. Why is there air? Hint: it's not for just blowing up basketballs with, you know.

Anonymous said...

Metzomagic, that is just too easy:

1. Coming out of a glaciation period, does the rise in CO2 lead or lag the rise in temperature? Explain in 5 words or less, and show your work.

A. Lags so the Hockey Stick is FRAUDULENT!!!!!! (I assume I get extra marks for using capitals? Sorry for using 7 words - I blame Michael Mann)

2. Has mankind contributed significantly to the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations since ca. 1750? For extra credit, supply your interpretation of the word 'significant'.

A. There is no such thing as significant - its all the sun you know. The only significant emissions are from Al Gore because he's got a BIG HOUSE and is FAT!!!!

3. Does the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect invalidate the modern thermometer temperature record? Or, going back a bit, what about dinosaur flatulence?

A. The UHI accounts for all observed temperature rise, which is FRAUDULENT. Dinosaurs - don't be dumb, there is no such thing. Another scientific conspiracy (don't get me started on the whole evolution fraud!).

4. Why is there air? Hint: it's not for just blowing up basketballs with, you know.

Because God created it for man to breathe.

Captain Flashheart said...

William, you're probably right (I really can't be bothered checking), but neither of them claims to be "open" do they? Though it would help PNAS with their unfortunate pronunciation if htey became POAS...

metzomagic said...

Well played, anon :-)

Lars Karlsson said...

My take:
1) Lags, so CO2 rise is NATURAL. Its all from the oceans!
2) no, see 1. Human CO2 is absorbed by oceans.
3) Yes, it is all due to air conditioners. In reality, we are going into a new ice age. Yesterday, I even saw some snow!
4) Air is plant food!

George Bailley said...

1. Coming out of a glaciation period, does the rise in CO2 lead or lag the rise in temperature? Explain in 5 words or less, and show your work.

A. Glaciation is cyclical - ergo it both lags & leads! (this is really only 5 English words, as "ergo" is Latin, "&" is a symbol, and "is" and "it" are less than half the average length of the average word [5.1 characters], and round to zero length at 1 significant figure)

2. Has mankind contributed significantly to the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations since ca. 1750? For extra credit, supply your interpretation of the word 'significant'.

A. Typical that you think it is all mans fault - you're clearly a feminist.

Definition of significant - any activity that reduces the income of the top 1% of wealthy people (clarification - the top 1% of wealthy people in the USA)

3. Does the Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect invalidate the modern thermometer temperature record? Or, going back a bit, what about dinosaur flatulence?

A1. Before we can answer than - we need to look at the meaning of the words in question:
Urban - be specific - do you mean "Keith" or "Karl" (I'll assume Keith),
Heat - is the same as hot,
Island - no man is an island - and the inverse of man is woman,
invalidate - is actually 3 words - "in", "valid" and "date",
modern thermometer temperature record - is anything after the 1998 pause,

In the time honoured manner (of Climateball (TM)) your question therefore needs to be rephrased: Has Keith Urban dated a hot woman since 1998? Yes - Nicole Kidman.

A2. In regards to dinosaurs - I defer to the previous respondent who correctly noted that dinosaurs never existed - but have been inserted into the fossil record. However it is possible that micro-farts have been inserted into the associated sedimentary layers (by intelligent design) and have subsequently invalidated carbon dating. Note that this is also an issue with Antarctic ice cores that have been corrupted by polar bear micro-farts. [I know what you're thinking - penguins have corrupted the Arctic record as well]

4. Why is there air? Hint: it's not for just blowing up basketballs with, you know.

A. Air exists because there is gravity. Temperature exists because there is gravity. Stronger gravity means higher pressures mean higher temperatures. Thought bubble - has anyone checked to see if the gravitational constant is actually constant? I have an excel spreadsheet, running a FORTH compiler executed in Visual Basic (windows 3.1 operating system), that clearly illustrates that a 0.001236 % change in the gravitational constant will lead to a 1 degree surface temperate increase. Ergo it can't be CO2.

George Bailley said...

Clarification on the clarification - the top 1% of wealthy MEN in the USA

counters said...

On a somewhat related note, I have to wonder why Anthony makes a big deal about the AGU meeting while he avoids attending the AMS Annual Meeting. I mean, he's both an experienced broadcaster and the owner of a weather services company... it simply makes professional sense to come to the Meeting, which also happens to feature a bit of cutting-edge climate science (there are two sessions on the hiatus today). I imagine the AMS wouldn't be too averse to the OAS sneaking in some advertising, either. I'll have to keep an eye out on the exhibition floor to see if they infiltrate...

metzomagic said...

Impressive, George. Impressive. But:

Clarification on the clarification of the clarification - [the top 1% (strike tag not allowed here)] of wealthy OLD WHITE MEN in the USA

FTFY.

George Bailley said...

.. touche - I stand corrected ..