Earlier this month, the Open Atmospheric Society, after months of secrecy about itself, finally called for nominations to its board. Investigations by a HotWhopper reader, FLWolverine, revealed who is formally behind the organisation. As most of us guessed, it's the creation of Anthony Watts who runs a conspiracy theory and climate science denial blog WUWT. His co-founder is Joe D'Aleo. They registered the OAS in Nevada back in July 2012.
Seems that the OAS enjoys irony. Today Anthony announced (archived here) that the OAS has joined with organisations like the AAAS, AGU, AMS and others to become a signatory to the Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines of the Centre for Open Science. As stated on the COS website, organization signatories are:
- Expressing their support of the principles of openness, transparency, and reproducibility
- If relevant, encouraging associated journals to conduct a review of the standards and levels for potential adoption.
As Anthony wrote: "Organization signatories are expressing their support for the principles expressed in the TOP Guidelines." It would be supremely ironic for an organisation to sign up to principles of openness and transparency without any transparency in the decision to do so. Without any formal decision being made by the organisation. Given there is no decision-making process in place yet, since there's no governance in place yet, the process by which the decision was taken, to become a signatory, is far from transparent. Moreover, your irony meter will be about to explode over this, when you find out that so far, the OAS has been anything but open and transparent:
- It took two years (July 2012 to July 2014) before it was announced to the public (at a Heartland Conference) that the organisation, the Open Atmospheric Society, had been created
- The OAS didn't reveal to the public or its members who was behind the society for another year. Not until earlier this month when Anthony Watts declared himself as "acting executive director". It has never been revealed (except here at HotWhopper) that Anthony Watts is listed as President, with Joe D'Aleo as Treasurer.
- After canvassing for members last September, the self-appointed "acting executive director" boasted of operating in "quiet mode" because Anthony Watts was scared that someone might dispute its legitimacy
- Without a board yet, there is no indication of how important policy decisions are being taken or by whom.
In the absence of any board, Anthony Watts has appointed himself as "acting executive director". It would appear that he is unilaterally taking decisions on behalf of the members of the society. This goes beyond simply taking membership applications and fulfilling necessary administrative functions. He's taking broad-brush policy decisions as well, with no transparency of decision-making and no indication that the members were consulted on decisions.
Although signing on to the TOP guidelines is consistent with the stated aims of the organisation, this sort of thing would normally require a formal decision by a properly constituted board of a not-for-profit organisation - at the very least. In the absence of a board, it would normally require a vote by members. There is no indication in Anthony's WUWT article that such a vote took place. (In some grassroots organisations, decisions may go to the membership even when a board is in place. )
Transparency and Openness Promotion Guidelines
- Citation Standards: Article is not published until providing appropriate citation for data and materials following journal's author guidelines.
- Data Transparency: Data must be posted to a trusted repository, and reported analyses will be reproduced independently prior to publication.
- Analytic Methods (Code) Transparency: Code must be posted to a trusted repository, and reported analyses will be reproduced independently prior to publication.
- Research Materials Transparency: Materials must be posted to a trusted repository, and reported analyses will be reproduced independently prior to publication.
- Design and Analysis Transparency: Journal requires and enforces adherence to design transparency standards for review and publication.
- Preregistration of studies: Journal requires preregistration of studies and provides link and badge in article to meeting requirements.
- Preregistration of analysis plan: Journal requires preregistration of studies with analysis plans and provides link and badge in article to meeting requirement.
- Replication: Journal uses Registered Reports as a submission option for replication studies with peer review prior to observing the study outcomes.
From the WUWT comments
July 29, 2015 at 10:13 am
A bit off topic probably: Are there any intentions to appoint honorary members who, by their background, have contributed to the advancement of climate science? Prof. Lindzen, Lord Monckton, Dr. Tim Ball, just to name a few, are IMHO suitable candidates…
References and further reading
- OAS - The No-Name Society Hides its Light - September 2014
- Verum in obscuro no more: Is OAS, WUWT's secretive open society about to reveal itself to the world? - January 2015
- Another fail at WUWT? Where is the Open Atmospheric Society? - March 2015
- The secretive Open Atmospheric Society shows tentative signs of life @wattsupwiththat - June 2015
- How Anthony Watts, persecuted victim and hero, valiantly thwarts imaginary roadblock throwers - July 2015
- Home page
- Transparency and Openness Promotion (TOP) Guidelines page - together with journal and organisational signatories
- Open Science Framework - cloud based storage for scientific research projects