Data = Truth?

Posted on August 12, 2013

Today I observed a Twitter conversation between Daniel Truman and Kelvin Newman during which Kelvin (perhaps light-heartedly) asked the following question:

@DanielJTruman data = truth ?

— kelvin newman (@kelvinnewman) August 12, 2013

Is this actually the case?

Firstly, data cannot be false but this doesn’t mean it is necessarily the truth.

I’d liken it to the shadows on the wall of Plato’s Cave; data is only a projection of reality.

I’m quite happy with this analogy:

I think it is possible to uniquely identify a 3D object given enough projections but in real life the objects are complicated and there is never enough data.

So is data the truth? No; it is a representation of it.