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2010[ai-geostats] Re: Who is J. W. Merks???

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  • Isobel Clark
    Apr 30, 2005
      Hello people

      Thank you for your swift responses, especially on the
      weekend. This turned out to be a long reply, so feel
      free to read the next paragraph and skip on to the
      last one.

      I think we should be fair to Jan Merks. He got a bee
      in his bonnet over an issue which is less than well
      explained in the bulk of geostatistics text books,
      especially 13 years ago. He tried discussing it with
      some geostatisticians and got the usual "how dare you
      criticise us" reaction from the mainstream. If you
      don't believe me, get hold of the Engineering Mining
      Journal and read Danie Krige's response to Merk's

      I have never met Jan Merks and issued my invitation to
      discussion in the hope that we could learn something
      from one another. It was turned down with no opening
      for any continuation of debate, even by email.

      As a practising mining engineer who has to earn a
      living valuing mineral resources, I use what works in
      reality and follow (as much as I am capable of) new
      theories and practice as they become proven. As Fran
      says, every orebody is different and uncertainty is
      part of our way of life. The best we can do is
      minimise it and quantify what is left, if we can.

      There are many weak patches in geostatistical theory.
      However, we are not going to fix them by roaming
      through Amazon and writing hostile reviews of every
      book we can find on the topic. Or by ignoring
      opportunities for discussion and debate.

      Merks has a very powerful position in Canada, as he
      sits on the National and Government committees which
      determine standards for sampling design and such like.
      He is also, judging by the bulk of his own work, a
      very intelligent and persuasive communicator.

      And he is not alone. Read, for example, Philip and
      Watson's paper in Mathematical Geology in the
      mid-1980s. It took me several years to figure out why
      their antagonism to geostatistics was so strong.
      Finally, after a conversation with a land surveyor in
      South Africa, I realised that they did not know that
      we cannot see the surfaces we are mapping -- unlike
      map makers.

      Geostatistics is not a panacea and (in my opinion) is
      not a suitable method for automated mapping. Not till
      we patch the weak places, like semi-variogram
      modelling, conditional bias and handling non-Normal
      data. However, until someone comes along with
      something that is as easy to understand, test and
      apply I am sticking with it.

      I never wrote a response to Merk's article. How can
      you take a guy's criticism seriously when he can't
      bother to spell your name right?

      Isobel (with an o) Clark (without an e)
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