"Geostatistics or Voodoo statistics" -- the anger of Mr Jan W Merks
some thoughts from Isobel Clark, July 2009
In 1992, Jan Merks wrote a paper in which he claimed that Geostatistics was a scam perpetrated on an unsuspecting mining industry by a succession of confidence artists starting with Georges Matheron and including as its foremost exponents myself and Michel David. His article appeared in many publications ranging from the Engineering and Mining Journal to the Northern Miner newspaper.
I only discovered this because many colleagues forwarded me copies of these articles by mail and fax. I had not met Mr Merks at that time and have not had the opportunity since.
It was a prominent subject for discussion at the 4th Geostatistics Congress in Troia (Portugal) in September 1992. People urged me to make a formal response to the accusations. I refused on several grounds, the official one being that one could not take seriously a man who could not spell my name correctly (Clarke!!).
After another year of these insults and accusations, I wrote personally to Mr Merks. It was clear to me that Mr Merks had some problems and I thought we could discuss them face to face rather than exchanging insults remotely. I invited him to join my short course in the USA and discuss his point of view with the class as his audience. He refused.
In 2006, Mr Merks was still continuing his campaign against the field and posted accusatory emails to the ai-geostats mailing list. In view of this, I scanned my original correspondence with Mr Merks into pdf format:
Fax to Merks, 1st December 1993 click here
Fax from Merks, 2nd December 1993 click here
In light of this refusal and his continuing rage against the whole field of geostatistics, it would appear that nothing will convince this man that he may be mistaken. It is true that there are many shortcomings in both the theory and application of geostatistics and healthy debate is a great thing. However, neglect of degrees of freedom is not one of these shortcomings! Plus, I am pretty sure that geostatistics was not used in the evaluation of the Bre-X deposit.
By the way, Mr Merks, that invitation is still open -- but this time I am not offering a free pass!
Special note: January 2010: Jan Merks has been emailing me again.
Apparently he decided to start insulting me again on his web pages. His presentation at APCOM 2009 seems to have given him new impetus in his fight against the evils of geostatistics. I promised myself in 1993 that I would not respond to his calumnies since doing so is an exercise in futility. However, after being accused of "scolding" I felt I should reach out one last time. You can find our two sets of correspondence at:
Do you find it interesting that he attends APCOM for the first time ever when it is in his home town -
and only attends the session where he presents his own paper?
Do you find it interesting that he did not even know I was in that session?
Do you find it interesting that he talked to his wife all through every other presentation during that session?
Do you find it interesting that he and his wife spoke to no-one else while they were there?
Well, I was right about the futility part. Got a reply within seconds - no words just the same old incomprehensible spreadsheet slagging off geostatistics and (for some even more incomprehensible reason) our free "kriging game" which illustrates how kriging works...
Read the opinions of Jan W Merks at: http://www.geostatscam.com
Some background about myself can be found at: http://drisobelclark.kriging.com