Travelling back in time was what H G Wells made nightmares off. I have read the latest biography about his life and time. Michael Sherborne called it Another Kind of Life. Here’s what I learned. Wells did not praise statistical thinking because Ronald A Fisher won the case for degrees of freedom. Sherborne pointed out that the quotation which Darryl Huff did attribute to H G Wells came from Samuel S Wilks. When Wilks gave his 1954 presidential address to the members of the American Statistical Association, he said: ”The great body of physical science, a great deal of the essential fact of financial science, and endless social and political problems are only accessible and only thinkable to those who have had a sound training in mathematical analysis, and the time may not be very remote when it will be understood for complete initiation as an efficient citizen of one of the great new complex world-wide States that are now developing, it is as necessary to be able to compute, to think in averages and maxima, as it now to be able to read and write.” Sherborn tracked that rather rambling sentence down to Chapter 6 of Wells’s Mankind in the Making. It was Wells himself who brought it down to, “Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write.” Wells had a way with words and women. But who would not want Wells’s way with words?
Samuel S Wilks in 1954 praised statistical thinking in the USA. Meanwhile in Algeria Georges Matheron thought he was working with applied statistics. He called his first paper Formule de Minerais Connexes and marked it Note Statistique No1. CdG’s webmaster has posted it as Note géostatistique No 1. Matheron tested for associative dependence between lead and silver grades determined in drill core samples of variable length. He didn’t show his set of primary data nor did he give references. He deemed himself without peers. And that’s just as well. Matheron in a Rectificatif to his paper derived length-weighted average lead and silver grades for core samples of variable length. Here’s where he failed. His degree of associative dependence between lead and silver didn’t take into account variable lengths of core samples. He didn’t derive the variances of lead and silver grades. Neither did he derive variances of length-weighted average lead and silver grades. Matheron, too, lost David‘s “famous Central Limit Theorem”.
He didn’t even try to test for spatial dependence between ordered sets of metal grades. Young Matheron had a long way to go. Yet, he kept marching in place to the din of kriging drums.
So it was that he never did what he had failed to do in 1954. It was Dr Frederik P Agterberg in his eulogy who called Professor Dr Georges Matheron (1930-2000) the founder of Spatial Statistics. Here’s what may baffle many a mind! Matheron and his minions would rather assume spatial dependence between measured values than apply Fisher’s F-test to the variance of the set and the first variance term of the ordered set. To assume spatial dependence where it doesn’t exist is the very reason why the study of climate dynamics is such a mess.
CIM Bulletin has been my core source of fickle stats since the 1990s. A few of my papers were published in CIM Bulletin and may be downloaded from CIM’s website. Life Members, too, do pay for downloads. In contrast, Matheron’s work may be downloaded from CdG’s website free of charge. A paper for which no download fee ought to be charged is Armstrong and Champigny’s A Study on Kriging Small Blocks. David must have been pleased that mine planners were to blame for over-smoothed estimates. But he was not at all pleased that Precision Estimates for Ore Reserves was short of references to geostatistics. So, I submitted the same paper on November 14, 1990 to the Journal for Mathematical Geology. JMG’s reviews turned out to be a toss-up. That’s why JMG’s Editor had asked his Associate Editor to review our paper. JMG’s Associate Editor was the same Margaret Armstrong who studied kriging of small blocks. Of course, she saw fit to reject a paper that was praised by and published in Erzmetall.
Armstrong’s up-to-date list of publications does not refer to the study on over-smoothed small blocks. She doesn’t even mention her stirring Freedom of Speech? She wrote it as Editor of De Geostatisticis. It was a little leaflet with a few pages of text about the blessings of geostatistics. From time to time one more leaflet would be published to praise Matheron’s gift to the mining industry. Mark Twain knew a bit about mining. He may never have claimed that a mine is a hole in the ground with a liar on top. What I would do if I were a mining investor is question the validity of mineral inventories in annual reports. I would do so until the mining industry sets up an ISO Technical Committee on reserve and resource estimation. That would have made the 31st President of the United States proud!