Craig Loehle is sad

You can read about his sadness at great length in Scientist’s rebuttal of Michael Mann’s “denier”and other unsavory labels in his book (note how CL, like “Dr” Roy Spencer, wears his PhD on his sleeve). CL is sad because Mann has been cwuel to him, or about him, in his book. Though this seems to have been more exciting for CL than Mann, since he doesn’t make it in until p 187, and its just about CL’s rubbish temperature reconstruction (see-also Tamino on the “vindication” version).

But the centerpiece of CL’s recent post, which conclusively demonstrates how Mann is wrong and… well, you get the idea, is the one I’ve inlined here. Its from which isn’t a good source. I wondered what the data sources were for the figure, and what “Current Warm Period” (CWP) might be, exactly. No-one seemed to be able to find an answer; a person calling themselves Richard S Courtney was pretty sure it meant 1998 (actually very un-pretty, but never mind), but that makes no sense – the ice cores don’t go up to 1998, in general (I’m assuming there are some ice cores in there, though with no info as to the sources, its hard to say). Its likely that CWP means something like 20th-century average, but as far as I can tell it isn’t possible to be sure; I think they are being deliberately vague. They claim to have 5 proxies showing the MWP was more than 3 oC warmer than the “CWP”, but that doesn’t seem very likely, and since they don’t say what those studies are, I’m not taking it on faith.

In the usual way at WUWT, no-one was interested in querying the basis for a figure, as long as it supported what they wanted to see.

Update: in the comments, PS has found some of the studies with high MWP’s.]


38 thoughts on “Craig Loehle is sad”

  1. You clearly missed the entire point of my post. Mann attacked me personally and put me into a political category, using slanderous language. I am not claiming to be “right” in my work, just to be another scientist attempting to make a contribution. The language of your post above shows you also, like Mann, to be labeling me as an enemy. If you read my work (138 publications) other than that about the hockey stick, you will not find any political point of view–it is basic science. My hockey stick work is only “political” because Mann chose to make it so–I was making genuinely scientific arguments.

    [You seem to be rather like other folk at WUWT – any criticism of your work becomes a PA. But I (unlike you, it would appear) can actually read the bits of Mann’s book that you quote, that are about you: Loehle’s approach was laudable by comparison with that of many of the contrarians. He did attempt to make a positive contribution, putting his own reconstruction out there to be scrutinized and criticized. While the reconstruction didn’t stand up to the scrutiny (and the venue for its publication was dubious), he made an attempt to contribute to the scientific discourse in a meaningful and constructive manner. That isn’t a PA – what annoys you so much is that he is actually being nice about you, while criticising your work.

    Meanwhile, you still haven’t defended the figure you used in that post. Do you care yo try to do so? -W]


  2. They claim to have 5 proxies showing the MWP was more than 3 oC warmer than the “CWP”, but that doesn’t seem very likely, and since they don’t say what those studies are, I’m not taking it on faith.

    There are some individual proxies which indicate this, e.g. Tyson 2000, South African cold air cave:

    ‘The highly variable medieval warming that prevailed from before 1000 until just after 1300 was characterized by a number of warm episodes. The one peaking at around 1250 (Fig. 2) was one of the warmest events of the last six millennia. At that time, the positive temperature anomaly in annual daily maximum temperature about the 1961-1990 mean may have been as much as 3-4ºC.’

    [Aha, thank you. I don’t think I really believe the results (their T transfer function is fitted over 1981-1995 only, which seems like a very short period, and has an obvious alias onto dryness), but I do admit you’ve managed to find a proxy. Which is more than WUWT managed.


  3. Hi William,

    In case you were wondering about the snipped comment, in that thread I pointed out the irony of one Richard Courtney accusing the ‘warmists’ of using the logical fallacy of ‘Appeal to authority’. This being the same Courtney who awards himself a Doctorate he never earned when signing open letters and petitions. His integrity and credibility thus being zero he is reduced to fulminating at the safe harbour that is Anthony’s place.

    [Ah, that will be this one: or Next comment I put into WUWT I’ll tweak them with using one of those. the appeal-to-authority stuff: well, *logically* its a fallacy, but in practice its inevitable. And also in practice it will only be noticed when something they don’t like is being said -W]

    “snip – Clarke- this is an old argument, waaay off topic, and one of your many angry personal axes to grind, take it elsewhere and please, be as upset as you wish. Take a 48 hour timeout from here” (etc, etc)

    Well, actually, Anthony, I am not angry nor upset in the least. A moment of self reflection might be in order. What is the truth here? It is the case that Courtney is a coal industry spokeman who lies about his qualifications – really doesn’t matter how ‘old’ the argument is does it?. And it is the case that you are protecting him and censoring those who point out this truth – merely because his viewpoint aligns with your own. More than a little sad.

    [What is rather odd is how bad Courtney is at this, except when backed up by friendly mods / crowd -W]

    On topic, you are spot on about Loehle. Nowhere does Mann explicitly label Loehle as a ‘denier’, and his remarks are actually the mildest of ‘guilt by association’ – the substantive criticisms of Loehle’s construction are well-supported by references. Nothing remotely libellous (slander being the wrong charge here). You can routinely read far more defamatory stuff at WUWT and nobody bats an eyelid.

    It’s almost as if they were more interested in propaganda by headline than genuine scientific scepticism.


  4. I just looked through co2science’s list of papers – that was one of the first to come up. Unfortunately I don’t have the chops to evaluate the quality of the studies.

    I think I’ve found another 3ºC+ MWP, according to co2science. Their description of the paper:

    The actual paper is here:

    Can’t find anything in the paper indicating this temperature difference so I’m thinking they got it by eye from a graph. Note that the “MWP” here is 1200-1500, while 900-1200AD was a fairly average period. There’s a certain amount of “That’s warm so it must be the Medieval Warm Period” going on.

    [Definitely. That’s one reason why when you form the various proxies into a reconstruction the MWP gets smaller than the peaks in the individual proxies. As for dT: they have a section in the paper about MWP/LIA, and you’d think they might say something there, if they thought there was something to be said. The T graph (not sure what the baseline is) has a very brief peak – if Loehle etc were being naughty, they might have used that -W]


  5. Thanks for asking. I have in fact read a number of papers that seem to indicate a warmer MWP, but of course if you dismiss them all then Mann is right that “no literature” suggests a warmer MWP. I do not assert that every data point in Idso’s graph is correct, only that Mann is wrong that there is no literature suggesting a warmer MWP.

    [This is an evasion. You’re not answering my question, which (given that you’ve done the same at WUWT) makes it pretty clear that you really don’t know how that figure is constructed. It doesn’t seem to bother you, though – it says what you want, so you’re happy to use it anyway. And Mann doesn’t say there are no individual proxies showing a warmer MWP: only no reconstructions doing so -W]

    Even IPCC FAR showed the MWP as warmer (before Mann came along).

    [You know – or you ought to know – that IPCC ’90 didn’t have any proper reconstruction. If you’re interested, see Description of the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in IPCC reports -W]


  6. > guilt by association

    It reminds me of a conversation I heard once over a coffee table (well, the conversation was over it, I was under it, being about three). Something along these lines:

    The _consequence_ of going public in a dubious venue is you’re at risk of going public before you’re ready — without an editor’s and a confidential peer review.

    If you wish you’d caught something before publishing — well, you should’ve had help and didn’t get it.

    “Meanwhile …” as above.

    Answer hard questions publicly instead of through peer review can’t be fun. It tempts one to oversharing.

    Do it well, have the facts to fill in whatever was missing, show the conclusions aren’t based on nothing or on errors, revise the text if need be — those are correct responses to hard questions.

    Do those even for a bad paper — a high bar to meet — and a better editor might offer more help with the next paper, and your peers will know you a bit better.

    Science isn’t nice. Drama can’t help that.


  7. I’m having trouble reconciling Loehle’s claims of personal attacks and slanderous language, and the in-line quote added by Stoat: surely, there must be another quote in the book somewhere which Stoat has missed? Because, like Mann, while I disagree with Loehle’s results, I do think that Loehle is indeed attempting to make positive contributions with a minimum of bad science, and if all contrarians did likewise we’d have much more productive conversations. Based on that, I assume he must be reacting to some other quote.

    With regards to CWP: many reconstructions used “BP” as “before 1950”, which has confused many a contrarian. Also, reconstructions that are localized rather than global can give very warm MWPs.


  8. I’d guess Loehle hasn’t realized these two points are effect and cause — and guidance — not just criticism:

    > the reconstruction didn’t stand up to the scrutiny
    > (and the venue for its publication was dubious)

    A peer review, managed by a competent editor, would have provided the scrutiny in confidence _before_ publication.

    That would be to everyone’s benefit.

    While post-publication peer review is much harder argument, if Loehle handles it competently — provides any fact or reference pointed out that he missed, and corrects any errors if needed — he’ll get the benefit of the scrutiny he should have been helped to get before publishing.

    And if he does that, the next paper may get into a better journal.

    Where _did_ he publish? They failed to give him the help he or any author deserves to get, obviously.


  9. I think I’ve found the source of their highest earner at the 4.75 level.

    co2science description:

    Actual paper:

    The authors themselves are not convinced by this degree of inferred warming during the medieval period (this time between about 900-1100AD), suggesting in the conclusion that the proxy is overestimating the amplitude of variability. In any case the +4.7ºC anomaly is only apparent over about a 5 year period.

    [Good to see that someone is doing the work; you should try engaging at WUWT :-). The authors doubts in that paper are pretty clear, as is the short duration. What isn’t quite so clear, again, is the baseline – in fact I don’t think they really have a formal baseline for “current”, which is OK for them as they don’t need one. But it would matter for the Idsos -W]


  10. Hi Stoat
    What I find hilarious is the way they have to tie themselves in knots to argue for a global MWP as well as low sensitivity. I don’t expect to be able to convert the likes of Courtney, but hopefully some lurkers will see the argument.

    [Ah, welcome. I fear that we may just be talking to ourselves in that thread (well, and Courtney, but he is more like an Eliza-bot than a real person) by now. Its interesting that Loehle has bailed out (though he was good enough to come over here). It may all be useful as a future reference, though -W]


  11. Where _did_ he publish? They failed to give him the help he or any author deserves to get, obviously.

    Energy and Environment. Says it all really. Mann describes it as the ‘home journal of climate change denial’, which is actually the closest Mann gets to a personal attack against Loehle in the book and presumably the source of all this fake umbrage.

    [No-one publishes climate stuff in E&E if they have a choice. So Loehle must have had a fairly painful time elsewhere, I’d guess, which probably accounts for the bitterness. The stuff about BP is (or should be – it doesn’t seem to be) an embarrassment too. That’s fairly basic stuff -W]


  12. ‘Good to see that someone is doing the work’

    What else am I supposed to do while sitting at my desk pretending to do my real job? 😉

    ‘you should try engaging at WUWT’

    The last time I tried engaging at WUWT I got into an exchange with a few people who were arguing that white surfaces aren’t necessarily good reflectors of visible light (apparently crystals are required). There’s only so many ways you can say “That’s why it’s white.”

    The previous time I went there was regarding the Kaufmann 1998-2008 paper. The amount of vitriol was stunning, mainly aimed at one of the co-authors – a certain Michael E Mann. It was about 200 comments before anyone noticed it wasn’t the same bloke. I wonder how film director Michael Mann has been affected?

    [You need a thick skin, both for yourself and for others -W]


  13. I stumbled on some old (circa 2005) Climate Audit threads a few weeks ago, in which a few commentors were urging McIntyre not to publish in E&E anymore. Clearly it’s recognised in those circles that E&E isn’t a credible journal.

    There were a few other interesting historical footnotes, like commentors urging McIntyre to drop the “The Team” stuff (at that time it was “Hockey Team” – don’t know how this evolved) because it makes him sound a bit ridiculous, with McIntyre agreeing to do so. How did that turn out?

    Also McIntyre describing Phil Jones as a shining light in the field of paleoclimatology for his openness and responsiveness to requests.

    [He seems to have run out of friends since then. I haven’t read CA for ages -W]


  14. > E’n’E



    You could learn from others’ experience, e.g.:

    “On our Energy and Environment paper from 1999, had we known then how that outlet would evolve beyond 1999 we certainly wouldn’t have published there. The journal is not carried in the ISI and thus its papers rarely cited.”

    08 May 2007 13:48, Roger Pielke, Jr., at

    So you have
    — a fact cite to a source known to mis-state facts,
    — E’n’E where they don’t check facts,
    — you publish errors a peer review would have caught.

    You didn’t get the help you needed.

    Whoever _did_ “peer review” the paper didn’t find problems noticed by your peers. You need tougher review by stronger peers, not kinder treatment by weak incompetents.

    May I recommend reading Peter Watts?
    “… That’s how science works. It’s not a hippie love-in; it’s rugby.

    This is how it works: you put your model out there in the coliseum, and a bunch of guys in white coats kick the shit out of it. If it’s still alive when the dust clears, your brainchild receives conditional acceptance. It does not get rejected. This time.

    … the insights themselves prevail…. the field will have moved forward.

    Science is so powerful that it drags us kicking and screaming towards the truth despite our best efforts to avoid it…. at least partly fueled by our pettiness and our rivalries. Science is alchemy: it turns shit into gold. Keep that in mind the next time some blogger decries the ill manners of a bunch of climate scientists …”


  15. Just as an FYI, those large (3°C!) “MWP” ages listed here are all far older than the max medieval warming in NH extratropics reconstructions, which happen around 1000 (950-1050) CE.


  16. Edward Tufte, Visual Explanations, pg 25:

    “If images are to be credible, their source and history must be documented. And, if an image is to serve as serious evidence, a more rigorous accounting should reveal the overall pool of images from which the displayed image was selected.”

    Just sayin’. 🙂


  17. Hahaha! The censoring is just the gentle protection of the kind hearted mods!


    I do not know why kbmod has snipped one of your posts but not mine. However, having observed the careful and caring moderation that kbmod has always applied in the past, I think I can make a good guess.

    Kbmod always tries to protect somebody who is attempting to enter an intellectual gunfight armed only with a toothbrush.



  18. There is a particularly sad aspect of Loehle’s alignment with the antiscience “auditors” of pukka scientists’ work. In an impassioned letter to Nature nearly 25 years ago, Loehle says:

    “There is a danger in the controversy over fraud in science of merging the concepts of fraud and error. The call for an audit of scientific papers for error is a symptom of this trend……….”


    “……who will review the error hunters? Who is qualified to punish whom?” [*]

    And yet nearly 25 years later Dr. Loehle could hardly be a more enthusiastic “error hunter”.

    [*] Nature (1989), 338, p. 370


  19. “You need tougher review by stronger peers, not kinder treatment by weak incompetents.” — me, above

    Is there a ‘social web’ site offering peer review yet?

    But how can you tell who’s a peer?
    Check _their_ claims. Shockingly, some are lies.
    They check yours with the same pearl-clutching enthusiasm.
    And flay you over each one.
    And you thank them.

    Eventually you have to trust someone — traditionally a journal editor — to find reviews who will nail all the weak spots in your paper.


  20. In my weaker moments I’ve thought of engaging the Watties. But then I have a nice lie down and the feeling passes.

    It does seem that some of them would like to be taken seriously. And yet they resist learning about the basic science of the problem or how the models really work, presumably because they fear this would challenge their worldview.

    So they construct this alternative reality in which CO2 doesn’t mix with air, climate sensitivity and feedbacks are programmed into the models instead of being emergent properties, and so on. The few valiant souls who try to explain otherwise get their heads handed to them.

    One bit of unsolicited advice for our illustrious host is not to respond to their jibes over Wikipedia. Most often they bring that up when you’ve asked an uncomfortable question on the facts – it’s a nice way to sidestep the issue. When you respond you’re playing the game on their terms. The only thing to do is ignore it completely.


  21. I’ve given up on that particular thread. Courtney refuses to engage with me and can’t work out why using the 20th century might be a bad idea to assess climate sensitivity. I don’t know what his argument about the MWP is getting at. A more variable paleoclimate implies either that the forcings were higher than all our reconstructions, or that sensitivity is higher. For some reason, he doesn’t seem to like that.

    I made the point (which was snipped) that all his ‘research’ (a handful of papers) was published in E&E. he completely ignored my suggestion he publish in an open access journal like CPD.


  22. What Loehle doesn’t seem to grasp is that assuming that his ‘reconstruction’ was politically motivated is generous. I mean, the alternative is that it’s actually representative of his competence as a scientist. That’s really not a position he wants to argue.


  23. I just paid one of my occasional visits to the Watts home for the terminally deluded. At the end of Craig Loehle’s post there is a block quote from Michael Mann’s book. If he considers this a personal attack and borderline libel, then his English comprehension skills are below GCSE level, and he might also have a persecution complex.

    [I’m a bit sorry not to have pointed that out in the thread. I had a reasonably fun time tweaking them about the mystery figure, but had I actually read what Loehle had posted (I didn’t bother) I would have used that instead. As you say, it really doesn’t support what he says at all.

    But that points to another “virtue” of WUWT from the septic side: the headlines are vicious, the lead-in is heavily biased, and no-one bothers read the actual substance -W]

    He’s also a hypocrite, posting to a site which as a matter of policy actually does routinely engage in personal attacks on climate scientists and does nothing to censor the constant flow of nasty and ignorant garbage from the inmates.

    The irony is that if you knew nothing about Craig Loehle other that what Michael Mann wrote, you would get quite a good impression, something almost entirely destroyed by his own rant at WUWT.


  24. I seldom visit WUWT and even more rarely comment there (both times prompted by something I’ve read here) but I was interested that none of the denizens were interested in what that figure actually shows. I’ve just commented there that one of the sources used compared the MWP with the period 1808-2000. The description to another used 1961-1990 as the ‘current warming period’, so the person who condescendingly said that it obviously referred to the period around 1998 was (as I suspected) hopelessly wrong.

    [That was Courtney, who is nothing but bluster. I found it funny, when I went for a last look today, that the mods had finally got round to cutting his pap; and then he suddenly had to “leave on a plane” :-). Loehle came back but unfortunately had nothing to say -W]


  25. Loehle’s tizzy about Mann reminds me of O’Donnell’s nosebender over Steig. They really do work themselves up into a right old state about nothing whatsoever with an embarrassing dose of “Oh, woe is me”.


  26. Ahh, good old Courtney; well known for running away whenever anyone who knows what they are talking about and who actually has access to scientific journals appears and starts asking questions.
    It’s sad what old age will do to people, either that or the effects of ideological blindness.


  27. “That was Courtney, who is nothing but bluster.”

    I’d heard the name before but I don’t visit there often enough to know who just blusters, who attempts to answer points (very few, from what I’ve seen) and who is just a rah-rah type who likes piling in on anyone who is seen as the current victim. Bunch of clowns.


  28. One does wonder about publishing climate papers in E&E.
    Is that only a last choice or sometimes even a first choice?

    [It would only be your first choice if you already know that you’re not going to get any of your other choices -W]


  29. 32 John,

    The editor and cofounder, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, is on record as saying “I’m following my political agenda — a bit, anyway. But isn’t that the right of the editor?”[


  30. Has anybody asked Loehle, simply, why he publsihed in E&E? Has there ever been a good reason for a scientist to publish in E&E? If E&E were the only option for publication of one’s paper I’d hope a real scientist would understand what that meant. The journal’s editor herself has been frank about her agenda – she thinks reality is the province of the social sciences. Every kiddie wins a prize! FFS.


  31. Wind farms provide negligible useful electricity
    [PDF] from
    RS Courtney – Center for Science and Public Policy– …, 2006
    About Richard S Courtney
    Richard S Courtney is a Member of the European Science
    and Environment Forum (ESEF) and acts as a technical advisor to several UK MPs and mostly-UK MEPs. … His knowledge of energy and environment issues is widely respected. …

    Was he an author for E’n’E _before_ he became an Editorial Advisor?

    The interaction of climate change and the carbon dioxide cycle
    Roersch, A | Courtney, RS | Thoenes, D
    Energy & Environment [Energy Environ.]. Vol. 16, no. 2, pp. 217-238. 2005.


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