Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Encounter with Anthony Watts, side two

June 23 update: Tamino's "Watts encounter" post - wherein commenters came to realize that they'd been had - has been removed due to a complaint by Nevada County's Mr. Greg Goodknight; see Tamino's post Silence (a diatribe, GG says) for the story.

Original post:
Yesterday I met climate inactivist Anthony Watts, at his main business in Chico. Mr. Watts wrote about my visit (negatively); based on Watts's account, Tamino concurred with him; and once I'd learned of Watts's post, I explained in the comments of Tamino's (now-deleted) post, saying:
I wasn’t going to write about this encounter, but since Mr Watts did (without notifying me), I guess I’d better do so.

I am the one who visited Intelliweather yesterday – I was up in Chico and had a couple of questions, and have not had any luck previously, with reaching Mr. Watts on the phone or getting him to answer Qs via blog comments (haven’t tried email).

His employees were quite civil and nice; I told them I was wondering if I could talk to Anthony since I was in the area. They let me in, and they went to his office to ask if he’d speak to me.
I was friendly too.

Mr. Watts came out of his office, walked over to me and asked, coldly, why I had come; I said, in a friendly tone, that since I was in Chico, I thought I’d stop by; and that I’d found that face-to-face meetings tended to be more human and civil – and that I was wondering if I could ask him a question or two .

Alas, this encounter was less civil – he told me to get out, that I just wanted to find things out and write nasty things on the web, and that he wasn’t going to answer any questions.

I did try to get my #1 question in edgewise, as I was leaving the Intelliweather office – I asked if there were other investors in Watts’s other, I believe low-profile business, the electric car sales company ZEV2Go. But he kept saying “go away, I’m not going to talk to you, leave now, go away” the whole time, in order not to hear it.

The reason I’d wanted to ask about ZEV2Go’s finances is that I’ve read that the DCI Group folks (Republican consultants who have an extensive tobacco history and who did the fake-grassroots mock-Al-Gore YouTube video a while back) had started an investment limited partnership that – atypically for LPs, I believe – invests in startup businesses; and it had occurred to me that this, or something akin to it, could be a financial tie, that could explain why Mr. Watts seems oddly reticent about his ZEV2Go venture even though it’d seem to serve to increase his green creds.

I’d checked out the ZEV2Go office first, but it’s only open for a few hours once a week; when I asked someone at a neighboring business about what went on over at ZEV2Go, he’d said “you’d better ask Anthony”.

So much for that approach.

Also, re the insinuations Anthony made in his blog post, they’re collected in a blog post ("The sad tale of Anna Haynes") by one of Nevada County’s local climate contrarians. (I shouldn't have engaged in the comments there; my response is here.) Considering the disparity of recollections, that voice recorder is seeming like a better and better idea…

I did contribute to the Sourcewatch page on Mr. Watts [several months ago].


Raymond LuxuryYacht said...

I too prefer face to face RL interactions, even when they are unannounced, spur of the moment things.

But once someone tells you to get out, it's time to get out, and consider if you own that person and apology.

I don't know you from Eve, but I am curious as to your views on rape, specifically the California Supreme Court 0 second rape rule. No means no.

Stephen Fitzpatrick said...

Foolish action. Grow up.

Anna Haynes said...

> "once someone tells you to get out, it's time to get out"

I believe I was headed toward the door - which was just a few feet away - as I asked. (Can't swear to it though)

re that, and Stephen's "Foolish action..."

For me, this is a tough one. Journalists need to be persistent but polite, and I believe my actions met these criteria. But was there a better, more respectful way of getting an opportunity to ask my question, that would have had a better chance of yielding results? If you think so, please share it.

(At the time, Mr. Watts did say that if I'd called ahead and made an appointment, he might have been willing to speak with me; but this struck me as unlikely, given his previous unresponsiveness.)

Argh. This is the real downside of do-it-yourself citizen journalism, that you *don't* get disinterested feedback - or can't tell if that's the kind you're getting - from those who know what balance of politeness and persistence is best.

It feels like the old "whatever you do, it's going to be wrong" - you're damned if you do, & the world's damned if you don't.

jayblog said...

This is very informative for me. What brought me to the sceptic camp years ago was the overboarding intolerance and arrogance of agw supporters.
If someone like Anna Haynes comes up with this stupid tobacco link, that's just too much. Doesn't she realize that big oil for long has realized how to get advantage of cap and trade? Did she never check who is funding CRU?
And why don't you guys believe that it's just common sense telling technical guys as myself, that all the CO2 drama can't be true. Be honest and tolerant.
Citizen journalism and activism and fanatism .. pretty close.

Anonymous said...

Harassing people in their home or their business is the mark of a sick, sick individual. In no way, shape or form are you a "journalist". You are the epitome of the modern eco-fascist, a willfully ignorant, obsessed moron with a superiority complex. I suggest you stay far, far away from Anthony Watts - he has the right to defend himself against predators, and you most definitely are one.

Anna Haynes said...

(normally I delete anonymous comments, but that one's a classic)

Anonymous said...

to be honest, i get the feeling your intentions were pretty much harmless, and it doesn't sound as if you've been stalking watts (and no, for anyone waiting to jump down my throat, a few blog comments and a phone call asking for follow up is not stalking), so i say, chalk it up as a lesson learned, eh?

i mean, consumer reporters pull this type of surprise-em-in-the-office stunt every day and no one calls that harassment. then again, they have a camera crew and everything, so maybe hold off on doing the same routine until you have a press badge?

lamont said...

Assuming that your description is roughly accurate, it all seems fair to me. I don't think you need a press badge or be Michael Moore to show up in person and ask questions. I also think that if you put yourself out there in public like Watts has, that you open the door to people being nosy about what you're doing. If Watts wanted a quiet, private life there's other things he could have done other than start "the #1 science blog".

I'd also like to know why Watts posted the location of Gavin Schmidt's and Jim Hansen's offices:


He couches it in a joke about Seinfeld, but trying to figure out which exact window was Gavin + Jim's offices is a lot of work for a joke, and I wonder what Antony's intentions were there?

Anna Haynes said...

Thanks Anon#2 and Lamont.

Although on further rumination I'm thinking Anon#2 is right - applying the Clinton Test and considering the followers of the inactivist blogs, I'm not so sure this is a precedent we want to be setting.

Gary said...

Had you made an appointment, that would have been fine. My younger brother's wife tried to make an appointment with our lawyers in order to create problems with an Inheritance issue. I canceled it. Anthony would have rightfully been able to do the same.

However you did show up unannounced. The moment he asked you to leave, you should have left. The FACT that he kept repeating his request- as you yourself claim- is proof that you persisted in your unwanted intrusion.

Tamino has the right of it. One of the few times he is right about anything.

Neven said...

Anna Haynes, I understand and respect your curiosity. I'd also like to know what's in it for Watts. But what happened, is counter-productive and I think it'd be a good thing if you apologize (and then continue asking the tough questions of course).

turboblocke said...

Watts says this about you: "This stems from previous behavior in the person’s home town where the person has been harassing others on the issue of climate change, making uninvited visits to offices, showing up at local service organization meetings to accost a person with whom a disagreement exists, interrupting conversations with friends at restaurants, and making phone calls to the homes of people with which a disagreement exists over climate change."

Is it true?

J Bowers said...

After trying to get a response, you went to a place of business to ask about business activities (zev2go's address on their unfinished webpage is the same as the address you went to, Intelliweather: www.zev2go.com ), asked to see someone who came out and showed you the door, and you left. I don't think you've actually done anything heinous or even wrong.

My curiosity about zev2go has been raised, though.

J Bowers said...

That said, doing it again probably isn't advisable ;)

Anna Haynes said...

Replying to turboblocke's "Watts says this about you: 'This stems from previous [bad] behavior in the person’s home town...[examples]' ... Is it true?" -

turboblocke, in my view this is swiftboating, but you can check out the "Sad Tale" (2nd-to-last) para of my post, visit the "sad tale" link (and read the comments), and judge for yourself.

I'll walk you through one example though - Watts notes that I was "showing up at local service organization meetings to accost a person with whom a disagreement exists" - I was asking this person questions, I asked permission before launching into the questions, & I wrote about it in the 1st comment on my post "Scientific literates" who are doubters, and who they trust on climate change (link). The "accosted" person described the encounter (link) as "pretty much like the two previous ones we have had – civil and colorless", saying "...Anna, in spite of your persistent questions whenever we meet, you have always been a lady."

While IMO this isn't quite accurate (I was a lady once for Halloween, for one morning, before the attire got so uncomfortable I had to change), it's true that on this issue I do aim for maximum civility when I'm entering into someone else's sphere.
(Note: you'll likely hear fervent objections to this from a fellow named Greg. Greg, let's meet for coffee, if I have your permission to bring&use my voice recorder.)

Does anyone know how one goes about contacting Mr. Watts? When I looked I didn't see his email address, on his Watts Up website.

MrPete said...

Anna, you ask: "But was there a better, more respectful way of getting an opportunity to ask my question, that would have had a better chance of yielding results? If you think so, please share it."

#1 challenge for you: your goal is "yielding results" and the result you want is an answer to your question from a private individual.

Different goal could produce different and better result. You want to obtain the gift of a response from a private individual who has no obligation to give it to you. How to do so?

Build a (small) relationship.

Learn to respect people with whom you may disagree. Ignore your bent towards digging for dirt for a while. Learn to actually get to know your subject. Be nice. Listen to what they are saying. Show them you are really listening and wanting to understand their perspective.

Approach a person, even one you disagree with, from that perspective... and they will most likely be quite happy to have lunch or Starbucks with you.

It is quite doable to have a very civil and even friendly relationship with someone with whom you disagree vehemently on a variety of topics. I do it all the time.

Turboblocke said...

Thanks for your reply to my question.

I found it odd that Watts actually posted about your encounter with him at all. Maybe we're more robust in Europe, but it seems to me that asking him legitimate questions about a business at his business premises is pretty standard practice.

And considering the way Watts responds to criticism on WUWT, he strikes me as being a bit of a wimp. http://climateandstuff.blogspot.com/search/label/censorship

Gator said...

Anna, you did nothing wrong. Even taking Anthony Watts at face value you did nothing wrong. Keep up the good work. People like you who keep looking into the dark corners help keep this nation working! The other side has no qualms stooping to outright lies. I'm glad there are people like you with the time and motivation to keep an eye on them.

Neven said...

Anna Haynes, I'd like to take back what I said about you having to apologize for what happened. Anthony Watts has to apologize for blowing things out of all proportion, and then he has to increase his transparency.

Jason Hoerner said...

I don't understand why people on the warmist side of the argument constantly try to find specious indirect connections between anyone skeptical of global warming, and the big oil or tobacco industries. They try to create some illusion of financial motive or conflict of interest where clearly none exists. If you look at the other side of the equation, the people that promote AGW stand to directly profit to the tune of trillions of dollars!

People like Gore, Pachauri, and De Boer get paid directly by companies that will benefit from global warming legislation. Politicians that promote AGW stand to benefit from increased tax dollars and political power that comes from cap and trade legislation (ability to do special favors to certain companies or industries), which will be reciprocated with campaign contributions. Continued large amounts of funding for researchers in climate science is dependent on continued predictions of climate catastrophe. Third world despots stand to profit massively from climate reparations. Big businesses which are starting to buy into global warming do so not out of concern for the science, but so they can shape the legislation to profit themselves at the expense of their smaller and less politically connected competitors. And they'll also be on the dole for government dollars for their green divisions. If it does cost them something, they'll just pass the cost on to consumers.

I don't like the idea of cap and trade because it leads to massive corruption, as has already been shown in Europe. I'd prefer a simple carbon tax, including on imported goods. However, all the people I listed above that stand to profit from AGW will never stand for that!

Even if it were true that Anthony's company received money from an investment firm with some members with past ties to tobacco, so what? Are you saying if some investment firm offers you money, you first have to find the past position of every employee of the company on every political issue, and if you disagree with them on anything, you have to refuse the money, or it "proves" you are a shill? Seriously, I don't understand what you are trying to prove with this line of questioning.

Anna Haynes said...

Thank you Neven.
(I do appreciate people who change their minds when the facts change...)

and re Jason's "They try to create some illusion of financial motive or conflict of interest where clearly none exists" -
It'd be great if this were clear. More transparency would help.

Anonymous said...

Watts doesn't know you. Even if you were a reasonable person, he doesnt' know it like he doesn't know if you have or not a weapon on you. Trespassing is at best a harrassment, at worse a threat.
Please, stop doing silly things, that's how people get hurt for no good reason.
Jean Demesure.

Anonymous said...

you can be grateful that you didn't dare to question Al Gore. His gorillas would have manhandled you right outta there!

Anna Haynes said...

> "Trespassing is at best a harrassment"

Jean, I came to Watts's business to ask about his other business. His employees let me in. I left when he told me to, trying to ask a question as I did so.

In the U.S., I don't believe that sequence of actions is considered to be trespassing.

Anna Haynes said...

However - for the record - I now think it was a bad idea, and I apologize to Anthony Watts for coming uninvited to see him at his business; here's why. (and thank you Deech56)

(and a p.s., perhaps there is no sentient strategist, but IMO it's prudent to act as though there is one.)

1personofdifference said...

Ms Anna,

Is it true or not true that you had an in person run in with Mr. Watts already once in the past?

I used to be a salesperson that went door to door.
I understand what turning ones eye to "don't" means.
However what you did goes beyond ignoring no solicitation postings which have no enforcement in a court of law until you violate the tenants of no trespassing or no harassment.
If you violated a previous request for privacy, then you deserve no sympathy whatsoever.

And you are wrong by the way.
My Watts is very congenail and very good at getting back to requests. He is a very busy person so it might take a while.

Also if you were a journalist worth your salt, you would have found his email. He doesn't publish it anymore but to anyone who persues it, it is findable.

I sent him a request for permission to use materials for a book that i'm writing and he responded after the international conference on climate change and has responded to me on at least 2 occasions, and gave me the permission I sought.

1personofdifference said...

I just find it ludicrous that anyone who stands up against the money grubbing leftwing progressives and their agenda for taking over the world with their policies (before you laugh look for yourself) has to have received millions from Exxon or other oil companies.

I am not nearly as big a name as Anthony Watts but as a for instance.... I am a poor college student who is relying on his unemployment to kick in again so he can support his family with what little he gets.
Even if I was offered money from a supposed oil company I wouldn't take it. I'm sure I'm not the only skeptic who feels this way!

If you want to look for something, why don't you look into Obamas connection with the Chicago climate exchange which sold it's shares of control less than a week of being outed on Glen Beck.
Why don't you look into Al Gore's two businesses which control the current major source of carbon tradeoff's and speculation redarding the same.
Why don't you look into how George Soros is controlling the print and on air news because he own's the majority of them, and Turner owns the rest and is friends with Soros.
Why don't you investigate how Obama was given a scholarship and trained by a Socialist and educated at Harvard without paying a dime then further trained into becoming the Senator of Illinois and then groomed for the presidency.Can you say Manchurian Candidate?

If you want to play investigator why don't you go in search of some real things that will mean somethign to Americans rather than harassing good men!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anna Haynes said...

Replying to 1personofdifference:

> "Is it true or not true that you had an in person run in with Mr. Watts already once in the past?"

Not to my knowledge. I'm curious; where did you hear this?

> "And you are wrong by the way.
My Watts is very congenial and very good at getting back to requests."

People, like dogs, often behave differently to different people.

> "...you would have found his email"

I believe I have emailed him previously, to an email address I found for him online, and he did not respond. See previous.

> "I just find it ludicrous that anyone who stands up against the money grubbing leftwing progressives and their agenda for taking over the world"

1person, please don't take this the wrong way, but you sound like you need to get an education. You sound like the fellow I heard speak yesterday, like someone who doesn't grasp the difference between science and politics. You sound like you're letting yourself be fooled.

And you sound young enough that you'll live to regret it.

If you want to learn, you might start by reading Jonah Lehrer's How We Decide and/or Malcolm Gladwell's Blink. (In short: we're not as rational as we think.)

Then we'll move on to the science.

Anna Haynes said...

In a couple of comments I'm not letting through, "1personofdifference" volubly begs to differ, appears to think I've been commenting on his website, is not young, and still believes I was trespassing. 1person, feel free to write at length about this on your own site, and then submit a comment here, giving a link to it. (If you give me your email address, I'll send your 2 comments back so you can post them there.)
Re the trespassing q, there is an appendix to my encounter with Watts, which I shall report in gory detail here, which could help to resolve some of the Rashomon-ism of our respective accounts -
After Mr. Watts had ushered me out the door, I was walking back toward my car and realizing that - if he really hadn't heard my ZEV2Go question - he - and his employees - *might* truly think I'd just come there to 'find out stuff and write nasty things on the web'. I don't like having people believe - and perhaps propagate - that this was my motive.

So what I did - which I guess *was* trespassing, in a literal (though to my mind ludicrous, but you be the judge) sense - was to write a note (on a printout displaying this Hayhoe "what's in store" slide) to Anthony, saying (from memory) "what I'm doing, I'm doing in an attempt to protect the home your children will be living in - the only home they *can* live in", and giving my name and phone #. Then I walked back and left it (outside) in a convenient place where he'd see it, next to the door.
(admittedly, the convenient place - which was the only convenient place - left the Hayhoe image in full view of anyone coming to the door; this likely wasn't appreciated.)

While in full-confession mode, one final thing: I stopped and picked and consumed about a dozen mulberries, from his tree by the property line, that was overhanging the sidewalk and dropping fruit.
(They were delicious - does anyone know where I can buy a fruiting mulberry in Nevada County? PVFS appears out, as are Weiss Bros and Prospector)

Thank you Anthony, for your mulberries. And please feel free to join the discussion either here or at Tamino's; it would benefit by your presence.

Anna Haynes said...

p.s. the bulk of the discussion about all this (including some very good comments) is over at Tamino's post. Please don't miss it.

Rocky said...


Keep up the good work. We can't allow special interests to control the government of, by, & for the people.

NewYork said...


"What brought me to the sceptic camp years ago was the overboarding intolerance and arrogance of agw supporters."

Interesting. What brought me to the consensus camp was the evidence. The fanaticism, irrationality, and arrogance of contrarians plays very little role.

"And why don't you guys believe that it's just common sense telling technical guys as myself, that all the CO2 drama can't be true."

Technical folks understand that science is not about "common sense", a highly subjective term. It was "common sense" at one point that the Sun revolves around the Earth.

Anna Haynes said...

People do seem to go off the rails in our little community; it's curious.

Anna Haynes said...

One more bit to further reduce the Watts encounter Rashomon factor - he and I had a previous one-person-removed noninteraction back around January, when I phoned his business asking about his educational background to add to his Sourcewatch page (link); I'd spoken with Lisa who answered the phone, and was told that Mr. Watts declined to answer or to come to the phone. (link)

(Some people feel that because of this previous incident, it was wrong of me to visit his business to ask a question on a different topic months later.)

(but, if Mr. Watts's account is correct, he did not hear that the Q I wanted to ask was on a different topic, since he was saying “go away” the whole time I was trying to ask it. And in view of my infelicitous "the next time you..." statement in my Jan. post, it's likely he thought that I was there to ask that same Q.
I wasn't.)

MrPete said...

Anna - such reference requests are often ignored by private citizens. If you called my office, you'd likely get nowhere as well, and I have no history with you at all.

Such a request would be categorized the same as the endless "Who's Who" info requests... a waste of my time. Most of us don't bother with such things.

(Personally, I keep my LinkedIn record more or less up to date, and that's about it.)

Brian said...

Per Anna's version, the visit wasn't a trespass. No law against asking a question as you're leaving.

Leaving the note may have been a technical trespass if she had to walk up on private property instead of leaving it from a public sidewalk. But I doubt anyone would care, and there's some question whether his saying "get out" precluded a reasonable attempt to contact him.

Fruit overhanging a public sidewalk is usually fair game, but I'm not 100% certain of that.

And yes, IAAL.

(And as climate realist I've had phone conversations with the inactivist side, usually quite civil. Too bad it went otherwise in this case.)