World Dendro 2010 Withdraws Invitation

On December 8, 2009, I received one of my rare invitations to make a presentation to climate scientists – a keynote speech at the plenary session on June 16, 2010 of World Dendro 2010. At the time they had received almost 500 abstracts. It was proposed that I speak on a program chaired by Achim Bräuning, with presentations in sequence by ‘N.N’, Juha-Pekka Lunkka, me, Keith Briffa, Fidel Roig.

Two days ago, I was advised that due to receiving almost 500 abstracts, their biggest problem has been to find more time for presentations and ‘many good presentations are without time and place’, so they canceled the plenary session in which I was presenting and thus my presentation. (This and two other plenary sessions are still listed on the programme. Update 11 pm – at the dendro listserv here , the cancellation of the Plenary session was announced on Feb 17 – so the cancellation of the Plenary session is real.)

They said that they were “sorry for this bad news” and expressed hope that time could be found for such discussion “in some future events” and thanked me for my “interest in WorldDendro2010 Conference”.

I replied;

Reading between the lines, I assume that some other speakers protested against my making a presentation. I appreciate the original invitation, I regret that you withdrew it but understand your situation.

They acknowledged:

You are right that quite many planned speakers for the Roundtable discussion were not very willing to participate that session.

Their effort to find more time for oral presentations in parallel scientific sessions appears real enough [11 pm - at the dendro listserv here, the organizers were criticized for not having enough slots for all the people who wanted to present], but somehow didn’t seem to apply to me.

As I said in my reply, I understand the practical reasons governing the Finnish organizers and I appreciate their initiative in the first place. I don’t entirely understand why any dendro would feel so threatened by discussing things like the connection of linear mixed effects models to the construction of tree ring chronologies that they would refuse to participate in such a session, but hey – it’s climate science. They’d rather avoid criticism than confront it.

Update: as noted by a reader below. Wyoming State Climatologist asked the conference organizers to “reconsider” one of their choices for plenary session:

Date: Wed, 17 Feb 2010 08:53:48 -0700
Reply-To: ITRDB Dendrochronology Forum
Sender: ITRDB Dendrochronology Forum
From: Stephen Timothy Gray
Subject: Re: an open letter re: WorldDendro 2010 – Registration
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;

Dear Brian-

Thank you for bringing this to the Forum. I share your frustration regarding attempts to organize a session, and I am puzzled by the apparent rejection of so many abstracts. As you say, the purpose of such meeting should be to “maximize attendance and the exchange of information between members of the global tree-ring community”.

What concerns me even more is the preliminary list of invited speakers. I believe that plenary and keynote talks should challenge and inspire the community. However, in at least one case it appears the organizers are giving the stage to someone who would just as soon destroy our work for their own petty agenda. I sincerely hope that the organizers will reconsider their choices before making the program final.

Highest regards,

Stephen T. Gray, Ph.D.
Director, Water Resources Data System
Wyoming State Climatologist

Update2 Feb 22: I’ve received an invitation to send in an abstract to one of the parallel workshop sessions.


  1. Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The “World Dendro” -link seems inoperative.

    If this event was to be held in Finland, I’m all the more saddened by the fact that you won’t be here. It would have been nice to see you in real life.

    Sometimes it’s just too difficult to face up to questions one doesn’t have an answer to. Shame..

  2. Sean Peake
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Who are the presenters?

    Steve; Keith Briffa is prominent in the Climategate Letters. :)

  3. Poly
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I prefer to see posters and hear talks from people who have gone through the discipline of writing papers. you are all over the map as would be expected from the lack of editorial discipline. you want to get invited, then finish some work. It’s not even about “fitting in the system”, it’s about efficient synthesis of information.

    • Wondering Aloud
      Posted Feb 25, 2010 at 4:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Wow what a silly claim this is. Combining a deliberate misunderstanding of what auditing is and combining it with the huge straw man “finish some work”.

      Thanks for Trolling on by Poly.

  4. Fred
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    so they are afraid to face their “nemesis” face to face in discussion and debate.

    Doesn’t say much for their positions, their faith in their beliefs or their desire to find academic truth.

  5. Don Keiller
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Methinks they’re running scared.

  6. Richard deSousa
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bloody cowards!

  7. Ray Girouard
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In the words of the Epstein Brothers as spoken by Claude Raines, “I’m shocked, shocked…”

  8. EdB
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    At the Finnish Battle of Thermopylae, 500 caved in fear of THE ONE..

  9. Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “many planned speakers for the Roundtable discussion were not very willing to participate that session.”

    Why many? Briffa? OK, he’s a FOP (Friend of Phil).

    Sorry, Steve, that you have to miss Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle:

    Arctic Circle marks the northern latitude north of which the sun does not rise on the winter solstice or set on the summer solstice. This is where you will find the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. There you can e.g. take a step across the Arctic Circle and meet in person Santa Claus himself as he lives there.Here‘s a web tour of his village.

  10. Steve E
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t think they’re running scared. From their reply, I think they’re embarrassed. Given the questions they ask in their own literature you’d think they’d welcome global warming because of the positive results it seems to have had on trees in North America.
    Of course those who don’t want to face questions are still resolute in their positions. Are we surprised?

  11. mitchel44
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, that’s rather fowl excrement of them.

    Try this one for a giggle!

  12. George M
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    By now, you of all people should know that there are no repeatable, defendable statistics in dendro work. The divergence among samples is so large, even the most sophisticated treatments can’t separate the signals from the noise. By the way, were the results from those samples you took a number of years ago ever published anywhere?

  13. R. Craigen
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This was their big chance to prove that climate science gives a fair hearing to all sides. I guess 500 speakers on one side and you on the other was not “balanced” enough for them so your talk got cancelled in order to achieve the balance they wanted.

    I decided long ago that those whose only argument is to try to silence their critics thereby provide the strongest possible reason to give more weight to their critics and less to them. The general public understands this, intuitively or consciously, and they ultimately do themselves no favor by being so bullish. I would have thought at least Briffa would have had some sense in this matter.

    I agree that it was a good faith move on the part of the organizers to ask you to speak. Given that, it is left to our imaginations to guess precisely what pressures were brought to bear upon them to excise your chance to speak. Well, no, not much imagination is needed after reading the ClimateGate emails. Those of us working in scientific disciplines (in my case, pure mathematics) in which such behavior is unheard-of (well, since the Newton/Leibnitz rivalry 330 years ago at least) have a hard time parsing how they can justify this nonsense.

    I’ll advise you to working on that keynote address. I have a funny feeling the book isn’t closed on this matter yet, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared if they say, with 40 hours notice, that a spot has opened up for you after all. Your detractors would get immense satisfaction if you had to cancel at that point (“couldn’t face the music, eh?”) or came with notes in disarray and poorly prepared (“see how poorly he does under real scrutiny by experts!”). Don’t give them that, Steve. Whatever you prepare will surely come in use whether or not the decision is reversed.

    • Dr Iain McQueen
      Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: R. Craigen (Feb 19 18:40),
      I am a cautious Scotsman, and second this advice.
      Beyond that, the post you have made at the top of this thread, and your subsequent comment is enough to say on the matter. Cheering and jeering by anyone would not help. I regard the invitation as likely to have been genuine initially, and then cold feet occurred as news spread and explosive reaction arose. Only a guess! After all at this stage the situation has become very polarized.

  14. pat
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    others are getting to speak:

    Gerald R. North Attacks Bloggers At Panel On Global Warming Research At AAAS
    By: Bradley Fikes — February 19th, 2010
    North, of Texas A&M University, was part of a panel on Climategate and the proper conduct of scientific research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual convention, held this year in San Diego.
    North said skeptical bloggers have harassed climate scientists with demands for data, assisted in their efforts at times by “energy-friendly members of Congress”…
    North said global temperatures in the last few decades are the highest they’ve been in 700 years and that it is “plausible” that the warmth exceeded that of any time in the last 1,000 years.
    But these scientists have been troubled by unfair attacks and repeated demands for data from various blogger skeptics, North said, whom he did not name..
    North said climate scientists face an “asymmetry” in responding to attacks from blogger skeptics, because the attacks were outside the norms of scientific criticism, including demands that the global warming researchers commit suicide.
    “That is a big challenge for us,” North said, because researchers are uncertain of how to respond to blogger requests and challenges…
    Other panelists were noted evolutionary biologist Francisco J. Ayala, Sheila Jasanoff, a professor of science and technology studies at Harvard, and Philip A. Sharp, a Nobel prize-winning geneticist.
    Jasanoff devoted most of her talk to describing the context of science in society, and how that relationship has changed.
    While once scientists could reasonably demand to be left alone, massive public funding of science makes that no longer an option, she said.
    Jasonoff only touched lightly over the Climategate emails, which cover a 13-year span up to November, 2009.
    “We know they’re 10 years old,” Jasanoff said. “How do you make use of 10-year-old stuff?”
    The statement about the emails’ age parallels similarly incorrect statements made by former Democratic vice president Al Gore.
    The panel did not include any global warming skeptics

    • gdn
      Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 8:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Another North comment:

      Many climate scientists disagree with such assessments. Gerald North, a Texas A&M University scientist who headed a 2006 National Academy Study on climate change and works with the IPCC, said only a handful of scientists truly understand the data and almost all of them agree it’s solid.

      I wonder how close to a quote that is, as it’s a point some have tried to get them to admit…while there are a lot of scientists that claim to agree, there don’t seem to be so many who are knowledgeable enough on the details to know to what they are agreeing.

  15. Robinson
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I suppose it would just give you more legitimacy Steve. As long as you’re “just some blogger”, they can justify excluding your criticisms to themselves and their pay-masters with less effort. Still, it’s indicative of the problems within the field, isn’t it?

  16. Dave L.
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I understand the weak-kneed fear; it stems from lack of expertise in statistics and software programming.
    Besides, it would be embarrassing to be a presenter and to have people notice that your britches were damp.

  17. dp
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 6:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    So the gatekeepers are still driving the agenda. One more thing for the MSM to ignore, I suppose.

  18. Jon at WA
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 7:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve would be an exciting and interesting guest at any gathering of scientists. Fundamentalist religions like the “Team” generally only invite heretics to a retreat if they can poison their wine or burn them.

    In Australia we call a gathering of like minded individuals on our National broadcaster, the ABC, “a debate”. The sometimes invite a “skeptic” with the intention of frying the heretic in public. The debate on the “Swindle” was a classic example of the process of an Inquisition.

  19. Dr. Ross Taylor
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 7:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Shame on them for their lack of moral courage. I suspect that various “bigwigs” in the field, perhaps Briffa, threatened not to go if you were there.

    It is easy to suggest work for others to do, however if you have the time might I suggest that you prepare a paper that represents what you would have said at the plenary session had you not been dis-invited? I wouldn’t bother with formal peer review as this process in certain fields seems to have been completely compromised, at least at present, however I would suggest you have it reviewed informally by people that you trust to be objective (not necessarily agree with everything you say). You could then publish it on the internet at the same time as the conference (it would probably gain far more traction than anything said at the conference through the blog network).

    Finally, when you do post it, you can remind everyone of your dis-invitation.

  20. Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 7:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’d love to see the speech, if you would like to post it.

  21. Tom P
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Given the spare time that this might free up, might it be possible for you to answer a couple of hanging questions I posed a few months ago? At the time you had promised me an answer, so please regard this as just a gentle reminder.

    The first is to do with the homogeneity of the ages in a chronology, a point you first brought up to me in criticising Briffa’s Yamal result. Your point is valid – if the ages of the trees used in a reconstruction differs greatly with time, there is the possibility that any change in the chronology reflects the change in the age mix rather than any external influence.

    It is certainly true that the Yamal chronology has some large changes in the average age over time. However, if this chronology is calculated successively removing the youngest trees, the results do not change significantly.

    However, this is far from the case for your preferred Khadyta substitution. What is the cause of the divergence between the young and old tree chronologies for this substitution, a divergence that occurs not just recently, but continually and to an even greater extent in the past over the last two thousand years, in direct contradiction to your claim in:

    You promised at the time to write a post on this, and it’s been a while.

    The second question is to do with the match of your proposed Khadyta chronology to the instrumental record. You give Yamal’s correlation as 0.55 with a t-statistic of 4.29 between the chronology and the temperature during the growth period? What are the corresponding values for the Khadyta chronology?

    Again, in November you said you’d get back to me shortly on this.

    Steve: in case you didn’t notice, something pretty interesting happened in November that has priority over your requests.

    • Tom P
      Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 9:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “in case you didn’t notice, something pretty interesting happened in November that has priority over your requests.”

      I’m in no hurry. But how much more time do you need to come up with a response?

  22. kim
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 8:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Tom P, follow Phil’s route; stick to the science, come clean, and get rid of the twee fluff.

    • Tom P
      Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 9:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I’d love Steve to stick to the science, come clean, and answer those couple of questions.

      • Wondering Aloud
        Posted Feb 25, 2010 at 4:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

        So far it looks like all the tree ring reconstructions are highly suspect. If he answers you Tom it can only be either he has no way to be sure or that the reconstructions are even worse than the nearly useless they now appear.

        In case you didn’t notice what “happened in November” was powerful evidence that the entire tree ring temperature relation doesn’t work worth a hoot. It doesn’t matter how you adjust the sample even the cherry picked data sets from Briffa show cooling where the claim is greatest warming. This is what “hide the decline” is all about.

        I don’t think that is the answer you want. Are you merely trying to obfuscate and confuse the issue?

  23. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 8:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    My email to the organisers. Others might want to register their obligations as well …


    SUBJECT: Scientific Courage and Honesty

    Dear friends:

    I understand that you invited Steve McIntyre to speak at WorldDendro 2010, and then subsequently withdrew your invitation.

    I completely understand that with 500 proponents of the status quo on one side, and Steve on the other side, that you would feel overmatched and outgunned, and that you would be fearful that your “science” would be demolished.

    Despite that unfair imbalance of forces, however, scientific honesty requires that you not only allow but invite your opponents to be heard. Not doing so will be very, very costly to your scientific reputation. Surely you have learned that much from the CRU emails.

    I urge you to reconsider your hasty decision, and re-extend your invitation to Steve to speak. Otherwise, we will learn more from your actions about the true uncertainty of your results, than from the 95% confidence intervals of all of the presentations combined.


    Willis Eschenbach

  24. Sean Wise
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 8:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am an organic chemist who earned his degree in the late ’70s. About 10 years prior there was a major paper about the symmetry in a type of molecular rearrangement that ultimately led to a “Woodward-Hoffman” rules of electrocyclic chemistry and I did my Ph.D. work in a related area. The interesting this about this paper is that after writing an 80 page long peered review paper, they had a paragraph long secton at the end labeled “Exceptions” The first sentence to that paragraph was startlingly simple. It said, “There are none.” The authors threw down a gauntlett and dared their peers to prove them wrong. Many tried but did not succeed and Hoffman won a Nobel prize on Chemistry in the early ’80s. Good science is testable and reproducable. Great science demands that it be tested. The Dendro group shows where they sit on the greatness scale.

    • Harold
      Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 7:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Indeed, Dr. Gray seems an interesting case in point. He’s very busy publishing dendro based reconstructions of rainfall. His qualifications? He received his PhD in botany 7 years ago, and he’s the Wyoming State Climatologist.

      Personally, I think things would be better if very experienced physicists and statisticians were heading up all this.

  25. Nobody
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 8:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Even if they don’t have a spot for you as a speaker why not go there just to listen. I hear that Rovaniemi is a nice place in june. If they cant find you a spot as speaker they might find you a bench for listening.

    There’s been some intresting field test done by finnish universities on the effects of warmer climate on tree growth. They have made greenhouses for trees with controlled climate and co2 levels. Here’s one paper from the field tests: . Seems there are some conflicting studies on the effect of co2 and temperature on tree growth. As the calibration of the tree ring data for past climate is dependant of the tree ring data of times with temperature record it might be intresting to look into the issues. If briffa has underestimated the effect of co2 in ringgrowth in modern times the curve for past climate changes may be dampened.

    I’m not aware of any other place doing such extensive field studies on the subject, and you might meet some of the people making them.

  26. theduke
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 9:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If I were Steve, I would go anyway. Engage them. If necessary, annoy them.

  27. justbeau
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 9:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Good science is integrative. It wants to hear criticisms, so as to learn from others and incorporate valid criticisms.
    Many climate scientists seem to miss this fundamental point. It bespeaks their underlying lack of seriousness and humility.

    • Harold
      Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 7:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

      In other words, good science is science, and the rest is not?

  28. Pat Frank
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 10:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The June 16 Plenary Session starts at 9:00 am and ends at 12:30 pm; it’s still scheduled, so they haven’t canceled it due to the press of more than 500 abstracts. They just canceled out Steve.

    Juha-Pekka Lunkka is a glaciologist and likely would not feel threatened by a critique of tree ring methodologies. Fidel Roig is a tree ring guy, but appears to have not constructed thermal histories of the recent past. He probably wouldn’t feel threatened, either. So, we can plausibly suppose that the objection was Keith Briffa’s.

    The sad business is that the conference organizers chose to exclude Steve, rather than leaving Prof. Briffa with his choice in the UK. Either the organizers strongly preferred Prof. Briffa’s star-power, or else perhaps others informed the organizers that if Keith Briffa bowed out, they’d not come either. The latter would have required instigational background traffic.

    Typically, plenary lectures are awarded to noted scientists. So, I’d also guess that Prof. Briffa would not want to lend Steve political credibility by speaking at a conference where he’d have to share plenary honors with him.

  29. David Longinotti
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 10:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Boycott the journals that publish skeptics.
    Boycott the conferences that invite skeptics.


  30. Poly
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 10:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Even though I’ve done more science work than you, Steve, both published and meeting speeches, my critical (content included, and on topic) post is held up…while lots of hoi polloi chest thumpers get through.

    Did you go to RC moderation school for this, Steve? Maybe they taught the voice of god there and how to coordinate responses to critics?

    Stopping me from posting, just shows you are into hearing people on your side. Too bad, they are such lightweights.

    Well have fun, penny-stock boy. At least you’re not destroying any shareholder equity here.

  31. DABbio
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 10:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I admire your Scottish or British reserve, or whatever it is. I would like to bite them on the leg.

  32. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 19, 2010 at 10:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There’s isn’t much to add to this, so I’m cutting off comments.

  33. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve received an invitation to send in an abstract to one of the parallel workshop sessions.

  34. Dr Iain McQueen
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Oh Ho! There has been some talk and contemplation.
    Steve , do you know more of the format of the session? You’ve got to be careful about lynch mobs, though I suspect there is a moderate contingent, possibly running the meeting, and this is still, I hope, a genuine approach.

  35. Dave
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I must be missing something. We all know that Steve is a baby-eating monster who likes to tap-dance on a bed of kittens. How could he possibly be invited to a conference on anything?

    Oh no, wait. That’s just how he’s treated. Has anyone ever come up with a reasonable explanation for the lack of basic manners amongst global warmists? Whether they agree with him or not, they could at least be polite.


  36. Steve F
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 12:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I work for the University of Wyoming and let me tell you this kind of behavior by people at our University drives me crazy. We are caught up in the whole green movement here, sustainable this, CO2 that. Blowing countless dollars on projects that only serve to make us look good to the other warmists in control of most of the Universities in the country, without doing any good for the student population or the vast majority of researchers.

  37. JP
    Posted Feb 22, 2010 at 2:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Update2 Feb 22: I’ve received an invitation to send in an abstract to one of the parallel workshop sessions.

    That’s great. As a Finn I’d be very glad to see you there. Hope they will give you a bigger room than the plenary session has, so that we will not run out of seats.


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  1. [...] Audit, McIntyre as stopped his manic posting on the Muir Inquiry long enough to give notice that he was disinvited to the World Dendro Conference. THE ONE On December 8, 2009, I received one of my rare invitations to make a presentation to [...]

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