Data Science: It Gets the Truth!

by Sebastian Benthall

What follows is the first draft of the introduction to my upcoming book, Data Science: It Gets the Truth! This book will be the popularized version of my dissertation, based on my experiences at the School of Information and UC Berkeley. I’m really curious to know what you think!

There are two kinds of scientists in the world: the truth haters, and the truth getters.

You can tell who is a truth hater by asking them: “With your work, are you trying to find something that’s true?”

A truth hater will tell you that there is no such thing as truth, or that the idea of truth is a problematic bourgeois masculinist social construct, or that truth is relative and so no, not exactly, they probably don’t mean the same thing as you do when you say ‘truth’.

Obviously, these people hate the truth. Hence, “truth haters.”

Then there are the truth getters. You ask a truth getter whether they are trying to discover the truth, and they will say “Hell yeah!” Or, more simply, “yes, that is correct.”

Truth getters love the truth. The truth is great; it’s the point of science. They get that. Hence, “truth getters.”

We are at an amazing, unique time in history. Here, at the dawn of the 21st century, we have very powerful computers and extraordinary networks of communication like never before. This means science is going through some unprecedented changes.

One of those changes is that scientists are realizing that they’ve been fighting about nothing for a long time. Scientists used to think they had to be different from each other in order to study different things. But now, we know that there is only one good way to study anything, and that is machine learning. Soon, all scientists are going to be data scientists, because science is discovering that all things can be represented as data and studied with machine learning.

Well, not all scientists. I should be more precise. I was just talking about the truth getters. Because machine learning is how we can discover the truth about everything, and truth getters get that.

Truth haters, on the other hand, hate how good machine learning is at discovering the truth about everything. Silly truth haters! One day, they will get their funding cut.

In this book, Data Science: It Gets the Truth! you will learn how you too can be a data scientist and learn the truth about things. Get it? Great! Let’s go!

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