There’s a front page story, complete with an eyecatching picture, in the National Post today asking Is De Guzman Alive? I’ve posted up some comments on Bre-X before in connection with audit procedures, consensus, skeptics etc. at Bre-X #1, Bre-X #2 and Bre-X #3. De Guzman is the geologist at the heart of the salting of Bre-X assays, who supposedly committed suicide in March 1987 after the fraud was discovered. I’m also writing this note because I wanted to figure out a way to mention the season finale of 24 (which I watch faithfully.)
The season ended with the President giving deniable orders and trying to kill Jack Bauer to remove the connection between the administration and the attack on the Chinese consulate. To avoid assassination, Jack faked his own death in cooperation with his associates and was last seen walking towards Mexico, just after saving Los Angeles from nuclear destruction. Jack had had a long day.
As to the faked death: is life imitating art or vice versa? It made some sense that de Guzman might have been murdered, as he was the direct link between the physical fraud and any people that might have sponsored it. It makes sense that he might have pulled a Jack Bauer and faked his own death. But de Guzman’s suicide made no sense. It looks like there is a little more to come in this story.
So I figured out how to mention 24. It’s hard to figure out how Jack will get back to CTU to save the world again next year. My guess is that the Chinese will not accept Jack’s convenient death and Jack will have to be found. But who knows? There’s a Canadian connection to 24 – Kiefer Sutherland (Jack Bauer) is a Canadian and apparently some of the writers are. One of my friends won a silent auction at a Toronto charity for a bit part in 24. I watched carefully for him in the background at CTU, but he seems to have been left on the cutting room floor.
A moral to the Bre-X story, which I posted before and refresh again: I’m convinced that the Bre-X fraud originated not from the financiers, but by the field geologists. Incomes for field geologists in micro-cap companies are very hit and miss; it’s not like being a civil servant. If they sent good news to head office about better and better results, Bre-X could raise more money and keep the exploration funding going. The wheels fell off because, in mining businesses, you can objectively tell eventually whether there is ore or not. For some one on the business side of speculative exploration, even where there is no overt fraud, you have to be wary of your own geologists, who are unconsciously inclined to make the exploration seem more promising than it may actually be.
The amount of money being spent on climate research is a big amount. So when UCAR (the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research), who receive a huge amount of federal funding for climate reasearch, issues a national press release announcing that Ammann and Wahl had merely submitted a paper supposedly showing that they had "confirmed" the hockey stick, do you think that there is a touch of self-interest in their behavior? Update (Wed. aft.) : Roger Pielke, who knows the institution, suggests in a comment below quite reasonably that the press release probably originated from the self-interest of the individual scientists, rather than corporate self-interest. I don’t view self interest in these matters on behalf of individual scientists in exclusively monetary terms, since people fight over prestige as well as money.