GEOSTATS: philosphical question
- Richard -
I share your concern and have been "preaching" about this issue in my short
courses for almost twenty years. I even devoted a large portion of my
book on environmental geostatistics to these issues.
In this age of computers, I have observed a "garbage in, gospel out"
mentality, where people almost automatically believe what the computer puts
out. This is unfortunate. What is worse, people frequently use these
maps as the "gospel" to make decisions, and many of the decisions turn out
to be wrong. Needless to say, incorrect decisions have severe
consequences. Miners found that misclassified ore/waste costs millions of
dollars; environmental regulators worry about unremediated wastes, while
PRPs/permittees don't want to clean up materials that do not exceed
regulatory thresholds. Decision errors made due to uncertainties generally
carry a large cost, whether in monetary or human health terms.
Computer generated maps, which I sometimes refer to as "Geo-Art" have an
important place, however. They provide a good visual conceptual model,
which, in itself, is useful. However, as you and others have pointed out,
there is a significant level of uncertainty associated with any map. The
impact of the uncertainties must be evaluated in terms of the potential
decision error costs to be made from relying on the existing level of
information contained in the map. Fortunately, a far greater level of
scrutiny is now being applied to maps than, say, a decade ago. There is
still a lot of room for improvement, however.
On a different, and sad note, Dr. Michel David, world-renowned
geostatistician, died last month after a long illness. Michel's impact on
the geostatistical community is legendary, and those who knew him will miss
his insights and enthusiasm. He provided a foundation for geostatistics
that has benefited us all and for which we should all be grateful. He will
be sorely missed. God bless.
Morrison Knudsen Corporation
10822 W. Toller Drive
Littleton, CO 80127
FON (303) 948-4678
FAX (303) 948-4010
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