jdancing - 4:48 am on Jul 20, 2010 (gmt 0)
Robert, thanks for moving this post to a relevant discussion. I did not spot it when I asked my question.
whitenight: You wisely speak of imperial evidence and taking what Matt Cutts says with a grain of salt. While he does give some great tips, I believe part of his job is to keep the SEO community off balance. Think about it, there is no way he would ever say "if done properly, pagerank sculpting will help the rankings of your most important pages and this is how to do it".
Anyway, I am only a sample of one and might not be doing my pagerank sculpting perfectly by doing a nofollow, noindex on a bunch of of pages that are not really helping me anymore, but as I mentioned, my key rankings have been in a steady uptrend as the pages are being deindexed. Coincidence, perhaps, you never really know unless repeated because rankings change all the time and sometimes what you did last is not the cause for the effect.
What gave me the idea to cut back my site was tiny Squidoo / Hubpages type sites were starting to move ahead of my much larger site with lots of content that is not as tightly focused as a "Lens".