Monday, June 8, 2015

More perversity from Anthony Watts @wattsupwiththat

Sou | 3:26 PM Go to the first of 37 comments. Add a comment
The day before yesterday, with approval of the author, I promoted a comment to an article, which needed very little introduction. Anthony Watts had already publicly accused the NOAA of fraud, and of lying. In an email to Dr Peterson he went one further and accused Dr Peterson and his colleagues of fraud and prostitution. [See also addendum below.]

I just noticed a very long Twitter exchange in which Anthony Watts is trying to perversely twist around his own accusation of fraud, and claim that it is Dr Peterson who is "sliming" Anthony Watts. And apparently I also "slimed" Anthony by hosting his comment, despite saying very little about it. Anthony's email said it all. Here's his email again - this time I'll emphasise his allegations in bold italics:

Dear Dr. Peterson,
This latest paper, Karl et al. 2015 is an embarrassment to science. It epitomizes president Eisenhower’s second warning in his farewell address about science and politics becoming hopelessly intertwined, and thus corrupted.
In my last telephone conversation with you, I stated (paraphrasing) that “I believe you folks aren’t doing anything fraudulent, but you are doing what you feel is correct science in what you believe is a correct way”.
After seeing the desperate tricks pulled in Karl 2015 to erase “the pause” via data manipulation, I no longer hold that opinion. You needed it to go away, so you prostituted yourselves, perhaps at the direction of higher ups.
This will be NCDC’s Waterloo, and will backfire on all of you terribly on the world stage. Take a lesson from Yamamoto’s own observation after he bombed Pearl Harbor. Take a lesson from what is on WUWT today.
How sad for you all.
Anthony Watts
cc: [undisclosed recipients] 

Here are two of Anthony's tweets, in which Anthony is claiming that it is Dr Peterson doing the "sliming" - contrast Anthony's latest accusation with Dr Peterson's calm and considered reply to him (any other person would probably have dropped Anthony's email into the "crank" folder). Yet Anthony tries to claim it was a "slime"!

In his next one, it's me - even though I made almost no comment about the email (apart from pointing out Anthony's conspiracy ideation). Anthony was slimed entirely by his own words. He slimed himself.

Anthony didn't approach Dr Peterson until after he'd already accused the NOAA of fraud and lying. When Anthony did finally approach him, he accused Dr Peterson and his colleagues of fraud and prostitution.

Dr Peterson gave Anthony plenty of time to "consider" but Anthony didn't do so. So far Anthony has posted 13 articles about the paper (12 listed here plus one more since), most of which imply or directly accuse the scientists of incompetence and/or fraud. And Anthony sulks that it's he who is being "slimed"?

Tell me, how does that work?

Anthony seems to think that proof that he's an upright citizen is that Bill McKibben invited him to lunch. It's not. (Remember how Anthony treated Richard Betts and Tamsin Edwards.) In fact, going by the date stamps, Anthony shot the above attack email off to Dr Peterson just before he swanned off, holier than thou, to lunch with Bill McKibben. (I wonder who paid for the lunch?)

Remember too, that evidence suggests that the main purpose of WUWT is to mock science and try to belittle scientists - and worse. This Twitter exchange provides further insight into how disinformers twist and turn and squirm and then attack, when someone shines a light on their false claims and their arguably defamatory allegations.

I don't particularly want to get into a dog fight (or wrestle with pigs), but that tweet conversation was so remarkable that I decided to share it. (Perhaps someone will tell Bill McKibben about how Anthony is (ab)using his lunch invitation to claim piety and sainthood - the reference to "see my latest")

Here's a link to the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund.  You can donate or buy stuff.

Addendum - Publishing private emails has been WUWT policy since 13 May 2015

Apart from Anthony's ridiculous claim about "loss of trust" after Anthony accused Dr Peterson of fraud and prostitution, there is another point some people might not be aware of.

Anthony Watts can't argue that the email should have been kept private without exposing his double standards. In a WUWT article from less than a month ago - posted on 13 May 2015, Anthony Watts announced a policy of publishing private emails he receives - with email addresses and all (archived here):

Hump day hilarity: WUWT’s new policy on hate mail – your hate mail will be published

In that article he not only posted the email, he posted the email address of the sender, too. (Posting email addresses etc is against HotWhopper policy).

Sou 10:56 pm 8 June 2015

References and further reading

If you missed all the fuss and want to know what it's about, there's a description of the work and the main findings in the first article listed below, with links to the paper, related work, and other articles about it. The second link is to an email comment by one of the authors, Dr Tom Peterson, with an interesting comment about the background to the work, from Dr Peter Thorne:


  1. It looks to me as thought Watts has "considered" but has nothing sensible he can say that would be acceptable to his Heartland Faux Institute sponsors. Perhaps we should be grateful that he hasn't been comparing Dr Peterson to the Unabomber.

    1. The difference between Ted Kaczynski and Anthony Watts is that one of them is so crazy that he denies Anthropogenic Global Warming.

  2. Just standard operational procedures for "skeptics": say something objectionable, and when people object, declare yourself an innocent victim.

    1. Anthony seems willing to dish it out but when it comes back his way he becomes a simpering, whimpering husk. It is the behaviour I associate with bullies. I am not calling Anthony a bully. I am saying he behaves like one. If he invited me to dinner, I'd find something else to do.

    2. Playing the victim, yes.

      I have no doubt that Watts is doing it deliberately, he is not deluded. Send out a nasty email and hopefully provoke a response which he can then parade in front of his audience.

  3. To be honest, I do not know much about McKibben but this whole engagement with Watts things is downright weird.

    He writes an article pointing out the perils of engaging with Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson which is very sensible

    "If any good can come from Tillerson’s performance, it’s that it forever breaks the idea that “shareholder engagement” with companies such as Exxon Mobil accomplishes anything. In the past few years, as the fossil fuel divestment movement has gathered steam, some colleges, governments and religious organizations have bucked the trend toward selling off their investments in these companies and announced that they would persuade them to do the right thing instead. "

    and then contradicts his own advice by giving publicity to one of the nastiest ant-climate science cranks going around. Very strange behaviour.

    It gives Revkin who wallows in this pathetic lukewarmer, lets all be friends tripe a chance to give Watts some publicity.


    I thought all this bullshit died after Obama's disastrous first term which wasted 6 years on climate with him trying to "reach across the aisle" to Republicans who just spat back in his face.

    If someone can explain what McKibben is up to, go ahead. He's lost me.

  4. MikeH

    Perhaps Bill got bored of preaching to the converted, and decided that trying to understand an opponent might have some value in the long-term, even if there was a small cost in the short-term?

    1. You mean an amateur psych-eval? (Or does he have quals?) Reconciling the mask donned by a fawning lunch companion with the actions at WUWT would be quite difficult, I'd imagine.

      You could be right. (Like going to the zoo.)

    2. Richard.

      If McKibben met with someone like Jeb Bush or another Republican politician with a demographic I would not have a problem. Eventually we do need to get majority concerned about climate change to get the requisite climate policy.

      But meeting with a loser like Watts who dedicates his website to denigrating science and scientists? What's the upside? There is plenty of downside in giving this bullying crank oxygen as I have pointed out to you before.

    3. might have some value in the long-term

      Ah, yes, the long-term. Let's wait and wait and wait. I mean, we're in a hiatus anyway, right? Might as well get played.

    4. I would have to agree with the others. Some people are lost causes.. I think the cognitive dissonance that would result by moving in a more moderate direction would be too much for Watts to handle. And many of his adoring followers would probably also dump him. They know what to expect at WUWT

  5. I'm reserving judgement on the McKibben lunch thing. So far we've only heard Watt's description of it while McKibben remains silent.

    I wouldn't believe a word of what Watt's says, not because he's necessarily lying but because, like other fake 'skeptics', he has distorted vision. His patronising description of McKibben as someone who didn't say much and is not capable of understanding the science (which he, of course, is in total command of) suggests something else went on there that went right over Watt's head.

    Watch this space. I have my suspicions. I doubt we've heard the last of this.

    1. My guess is that Watts clammed up when talking science with McKibben. Just like he did when the deniers sent him on that jaunt to Bristol to 'face off' against Michael Mann.

    2. McKibben has already commented on the article at WUWT. All he did was clarify that he does not really support nuclear or thorium.

      "I doubt we've heard the last of this."

      Indeed. Andrew Revkin is already tweeting about the meeting. No doubt this will be briefly promoted as the pathway to solving global warming. Agree to be friends and set a compromise mitigation target somewhere between nothing and not much. How else can you stay friends with the cranks and the luke warmers?

    3. Agree John. I think Bill McKibben will be too polite to say much about the encounter publicly, as were the dinner guests at Anthony's "extraordinary" dinner (apart from Anthony).

      How many days before there's another snide article about Bill McKibben (I assume this one had plenty of sly digs too, I haven't read it.) A week? A month? Two months? (The delay after a face to face encounter is usually a bit longer than the delay after a blog encounter, so I'm prepared to give Anthony a couple of months.)

    4. McKibben may not have said much because he was utterly gob-smacked by Watts's idiocies - referred to here as "science which passeth understanding". Which indeed it does.

  6. Sou, Watts has maliciously and falsely accused the Authors of K15 of fraudulent conduct.
    Had Watts gone to print with that defamatory assertion he would have been at risk of losing his house and most of his assets to an action in defamation.
    As Watts is not the publisher he is safe-ish.

    I am very willing to help fund a preliminary action to subpoena the names of those to whom Watts cc'd his malicious, false and defamatory accusations.

    1. I don't know how safe Anthony is, but I suspect that this time around neither the scientists nor the NOAA will bother taking action against him. (He keeps crying "poor" - don't know how poor he really is). If he hooked up under the umbrella of the Heartland Institute or one of the other lobby groups he'd be more at risk. He does push his luck all the time. (One of these days he might push the wrong person.)

      As publisher at WUWT Anthony is exposed. He is responsible for what he publishes, whether he reads it or not.:

      While not as overt as his email, I think a "reasonable person" would regard this as an allegation of fraud:

      NOAA/NCDC will attempt to rewrite the surface temperature record yet again, making even more “adjustments” to the data to achieve a desired effect

      And a "reasonable person" would regard this as a claim that the scientists are lying:

      Tune in here tomorrow at 2PM EDT (11AM PDT) and you’ll see why this is the most mendacious attempt yet to save their climate science from the terrible ravages of an uncooperative planet.

    2. Sou a US Federal Government agency does not have recourse to an action in defamation. His email may still defamatory as it accuses the authors and specifically Peterson of such conduct .It depends on who the cc'd recipients are. He he is free to say anything he likes about
      NOAA or any other agency.

  7. I notice that Watts yesterday (after the meeting with McKibben) put up a guest post with the title "Bespoke Science…Made-to-Order Science" by somebody called "Charles G. Battig, M.D" [must refrain from making fun of name].

    A sampe of its uggliness:

    "I propose a new label for science papers which attempt to challenge established concepts by refashioning data banks to achieve a desired conclusion. Borrowing from the fashion world, I term such science efforts as “bespoke science.” Made-to-order…made to measure…made to fit the desired outcome by selective data trimming, adjusting, and stitching together. Be ready to see much more tailoring of data to fit the U.N. agenda as December approaches."

    1. Good catch, Lars. It's not just the comments that are often libelous (like Tim Ball's stuff which gets pretty close at WUWT - (we've yet to find out whether his writing elsewhere is deemed libelous by the court).

      Anthony does post articles like that too - though in that case they bypass the problem by not naming any individual - (I'm guessing it doesn't. I haven't read the full article).

    2. Battig has a DeSmogBlog entry...that should tell you something.

    3. He doesn't give any names, but he links to the article and describes it as "a construct of dubious data doctoring portending that climate disaster is right on schedule."

    4. Oh come on, that one was pretty funny. The lede was (must print now!) "EPA funded researchers influence EPA policy". Duh!

  8. Watts seems to be acting injured because his correspondence, which presumably he meant to be a private matter between himself and his correspondents, has been made public. He seems to be implying that such publication is unethical.

    Somewhere at the back of my mind I seem to remember rather a large amount of internal mail being published, without any of the authors being consulted, and a lot of network traffic to a certain website and money for the authors of a cash-in book being generated ….

    I used to suspect that Watts couldn't actually believe all the guff he promotes, that he posted it up to please the crowds, Bread and Circuses. But it seems he has allowed himself to be swayed by his own stream of propaganda and he does genuinely that believe the authors of the Karl paper and presumably the reviewers and journal editor have all falsified a study for purely political ends.

    I look forward to the submission of a response pointing out exactly where the paper is in error ....

    1. I think Anthony's feeling injured not because the email was made public, it was more because it was made public at HotWhopper instead of at WUWT. Anthony could hardly have posted it given the polite reply he got.

      If he'd not got a reply, or if Dr Peterson had been short with him, maybe then Anthony would have posted it at WUWT, showing how brave he is at daring to send an email to a real live scientist. And not just any email, an email where he told those scientists what deniers think of them.

      All that's pure speculation. Tom did reply and Anthony chose to do nothing with it.

      I like it that scientists are standing up to Anthony's bullying and false accusations. What's telling is that no-one in that Twitter thread accepted Anthony's version that he wasn't really accusing Dr Peterson of fraud. (He accused Dr Peterson and his colleagues of fraud and prostitution, in plain language that left no room for doubt.)

    2. Another important point, which I'll add to the article up top. Anthony can't argue that his unsolicited email should have been kept private without exposing his double standards. This is a WUWT article from less than a month ago - posted on 13 May 2015:

      Hump day hilarity: WUWT’s new policy on hate mail – your hate mail will be published

      In that article he not only posted the email, he posted the email address of the sender, too. (Something that is definitely against HotWhopper policy).

      Think too, of all the times Anthony promotes Chris Horner's fishing expeditions - FOI-ing government agencies and universities for emails. Maybe it would have surfaced sooner or later anyway - though I suspect he'd not publish it at WUWT if it did. Or not with Dr Peterson's reply:(

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Dana Nuccitelli has a new story in the Guardian today and included part of Watt's email.


  11. ==> "While not as overt as his email, I think a "reasonable person" would regard this as an allegation of fraud:"

    I remember the "open letter" from Willis to a female scientist (can't be bothered to figure out which one) in which (paraphrasing) Willis said that she had been fooled into a misunderstanding of climate science, quite likely because men were lying to her because she's attractive.

    Watt's selective "outrage, outrage I say" is beyond parity.

    1. That open letter was to Marcia McNutt. It was the most cringeworthy, sexist and patronizing article I have ever read at WUWT.

      Tom Peterson was fully entitled to publish Anthony's email. Anthony had copied it to "undisclosed recipients", so the only way to counter its libellous content was to publish the response.

      Anthony has extensive previous with regards to publishing genuinely private correspondence. As in the fable of the scorpion and the frog, he just can't help it, it's in his nature.

      And anybody who meets privately with Anthony with the expectation of striking up some rapport through a face to face meeting should expect to get stung later.

    2. In this case the bcc list is irrelevant. Watts had no expectation of privilege or confidentiality in the email sent to Peterson, and as the person to whom the email was directed Peterson could share its contents however and with whomever he wished.

      The hacked CRU emails and the handful of comments that have been a mainstay of WUWT and similar sites for years are another matter, since they were illicitly acquired by an unknown third party.

    3. The bottom line is that Watts libelled Peterson and his coauthors, and they have so far not called Wats on it. If Willard had any sense he'd stop with his unfounded accusations before someone decides that they don't have such a deep well of magnanimity.

    4. Andy Revkin has updated his article about Anthony Watts and Bill McKibben (which was previously congratulatory):

      Update, June, 9, 8:51 p.m. | Having been on the run overseas since the weekend, I’m only now catching up with Anthony Watts’s attack on Tom Peterson, one of the authors of a recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate paper. The exchange, in which Watts accuses Peterson of prostituting himself and hints at fraud, occurred just after he’d posted on his friendly meeting with climate campaigner Bill McKibben, described below.

      Here’s my reaction:

      Any notion that Watts is interested in fostering an atmosphere of civility and constructive discourse evaporates pretty quickly in considering how he handled his questions about that paper. Alternating between happy talk about rooftop solar and slanderous accusations is not constructive or civil.

    5. As I predicted a few days ago re the McKibben meeting.

      "It gives Revkin who wallows in this pathetic lukewarmer, lets all be friends tripe a chance to give Watts some publicity."

      The only person who would have benefited from that meeting was Watts who would have traded on the publicity to enhance his own status as a leading global climate denier (despite his near scientific illiteracy).

      But Watts is a extremist crank as are the bulk of his supporters. And without those supporters, he is a nobody - just another wailing internet conspiracy theorist. Despite the best efforts of people like Revkin and Richard Betts to bring him into the tent, it is almost inevitable that he would disgrace himself before he gets through the flap.

      Focusing on persuading the "dismissives" is bad strategy & a waste of time. These cranks will go their graves wailing about climate science.

  12. I'd be lying if I said it doesn't do my schadenfreude-y heart good, when I see a comment at WTFiuWT, like the following, "Mr Watts, your delusions of grandeur are a wonder to behold. Thanx for the laugh."

  13. Our professional team will provide you with the paraphrasing online . This is an amazing, amazing post.


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