That’s what I read in the Vancouver Sun of September 14, 2010. In fact, the heading read: “Muzzling scientists offends principle of public service.” Why would Natural Resources Canada muzzle its scientists? And why so shortly after Labor Day? A few NRCan scientists would not mind to be muzzled. But Dr Frederik P Agterberg, Emeritus Scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada, ought to speak up. The trouble is he doesn’t want to. He is but one of a few scientists who could shed light on an inconvenient truth. Why did his distance-weighted average not have a variance in 1970? And why did all of Maréchal and Sierra’s distance-weighted averages not have variances in 1970? In time, the distance-weighted average morphed into a kriged estimate. Geostatistics is all about kriging variances of sets of kriged estimates. It has made such a mess of the study of climate change.

Dr Graeme Bonham-Carter and Dr Eric Grunsky are Agterberg’s soul mates at the Geological Survey of Canada. This three-some has been thinking alike for quite a while. They were members of the International Association of Mathematical Geology (IAMG) long before it morphed into the International Association of Mathematical Geosciences (IAMG). It’s all part of the tangled tale behind one and the same acronym. Bonham-Carter chairs the Publications Committee, Grunsky represents Computers & Geosciences, and Agterberg is Member ex officio.

2007 Best Paper Award

By far the most dedicated geostatistician on IAMG’s Publication Committee is Professor Dr Roussos Dimitrakopoulos. He is Editor-in-Chief, Mathematical Geosciences. He is the Canada Research Chair and BHP Billiton Research Chair in Mine Planning Optimization at the Department of Mining, Metals and Materials Engineering at McGill University. He teaches McGill students all he knows about stochastic modeling with kriging variances. What he does not show is how to test for spatial dependence by applying Fisher’s F-test to the variance of a set of measured values and the first variance term of the ordered set. Neither does he teach McGill students how to count degrees of freedom.

McGill Professor Dr Roussos Dimitrakopoulos

Dr RD came all the way from Down Under to McGill in June 1993. He came to chair a Forum to honor Professor Dr Michel David’s contribution to geostatistics. My abstract for The Properties of Variances failed to arouse his interest. Geostatistical software was about to convert Bre-X’s bogus grades and Busang’s barren rock into a gold resource. Analysis of variance proved that the intrinsic variance of Busang’s gold was statistically identical to zero.

A long while ago I asked Dr Nathan J Divinsky, a UBC Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, whether or not degrees of freedom may be ignored. Here’s literally what he said: “But without degrees of freedom statistical inferences are impossible.” One of Canada’s Prime Ministers paid close attention to Dr Divinsky. Not surprising since the Right Honourable Kim Campbell, Canada’s first female Prime Minister, and Dr Divinsky were once married. I did not dare ask Dr Divinsky whether infinite sets of kriged estimates and zero kriging variances do make any statistical sense.