Skeptics Found Scientific Society To Escape Journals That ‘Keep Out’ Dissenters

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Some scientists and meteorologists have banded together to create their own scientific organization so they can study, publish and engage in science debates they argue mainstream scientific bodies don’t want to have.

The Open Atmospheric Society was founded to “give you a voice where other societies may not.” The group is meant to be an alternative to traditional scientific societies that have members who are actively trying to shut out scientific debate, according to OAS founder Anthony Watts.

“In 2009, with the release of the Climategate e-mails we saw a disturbing revelation: a small clique of scientists were actively trying to keep out scientific papers that gave other viewpoints on climate,” Watts, a meteorologist who is skeptical of man-made global warming, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Indeed, one of the leaked Climategate emails between U.S. and UK scientists talked about how they would keep skeptics from publishing any papers. A 2004 email from University of East Anglia Climatologist Phil Jones told a fellow U.S. scientist that “I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report,” referring to two papers authored by skeptical scientists.

“Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!” Jones stated.

“That sort of gatekeeping and replication problem still exists today, with papers that don’t follow the political narrative on climate often being rejected,” Watts said.

The Climategate scandal rocked the scientific world. It added credence to skeptic arguments that climate scientists were tampering with the data to give them the results they wanted. Other scientists saw it as an attack on researchers trying to do their work. It split the scientific community and the public, and the divide seems to keep growing. In the past few years, some scientists have been unwilling to even debate skeptics in the media, let alone in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Watts wants to get rid of that mentality as well as problems with peer-reviewed journals publishing studies with data that can’t be replicated.

More recently, the journal Environmental Research Letters refused to publish an article by skeptical scientist Lennart Bengtsson and other researchers who claimed to have found errors in temperature predictions. That same journal, however, published the paper touted by the Obama administration that 97 percent of climate scientists support the theory of man-made global warming.

“The other problem was that many of the climate science papers that became headlines weren’t replicable from the submissions given to journals,” Watts added. “This meant that public policy was being based on science the couldn’t be independently verified.”

To remedy this, Watts plans on having all article submissions make all of their data and methods publicly available online for review.

“Now with the higher standards of requiring replication upfront, and the open source, open access nature of the new journal we have in the works, I believe that this will set a new standard for climate science publishing,” he said.

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