Saturday, January 23, 2021
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Data Science, the fastest-growing faith in Britain

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HELLO there, everybody! I hope you’re well and enduring yourselves.

’Tis the season to be jeery. A Gala of Gloom. The Festival of Zoom.

It’s particularly important, at this time of year, that we take no comfort from any value systems in case the atheists get offended.

They don’t like empathy. They like cold hard facts. But only the ones that suit them.

They worship data. Look at these retail figures! Black Friday is now the most sacred day on the calendar. It’s celebrated by a torrent of press releases which are so sacrosanct that our online publications reproduce them word for word, like Huffington Posters.

There’s tons of data out there, with something for everyone to pick out and make into their own personalised chart.

There’s an Infogrim for everyone.

Next slide please!

This chart I’m projecting – can you picture it in your imagination? – shows how Christmas has evolved.

According to the Sacred Search Engines, this time used to be a Winter Solstice, culminating in a Mass on Christ’s Day. This, says my Censorious Fact Selector, was a celebration of the birth of the Christian God who came to rescue mankind from ‘the curse of the Torah’. Some say it was a 24-hour declaration that Judaism is no longer valid. That doesn’t sound too good, does it?

I must admit I wasn’t aware of all that. At school everyone said it was about turning up to Midnight Mass and spotting who’d spent too long in the pub.  

Sadly, it was very difficult to have faith in the men who ran the Catholic Church. So I lost it.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is even more risible. The Church of England had all the money, but attendances were non-existent and there was no singing, no passion and no atmosphere.

I think that’s where Sky Sports must have got the idea. The money lenders soon ruined the temple.

Which is a shame, because life is less lonely and depressing when you have a purpose and something to believe in.

Without any guiding principles, we’d be a nation of Kay Burleys.

Maybe we should believe in Data Science, the fastest-growing faith in Britain.

Next slide please!

We should feel guilty about enjoying Christmas in case we offend the Data Doctrinaires, who fanatically believe in the omnipotence of that Digital Deity, The ArchBluster of Dissenter-Bury, Neil Ferguson.

Data Science is his religion. If you handle data right it’ll do whatever you want, and your spirit will follow. You can put everyone else in isolation, and break the rules to conduct your own illicit affairs.

Data Science, as the name implies, is a mash-up of the bad bits of science and faith, a mixture of nerdishness and narcissism.

Unusually for a religion, data deities show no compassion. Unlike most systematic disciplines, ‘the science’ is rarely scientific.

Its guiding principles seem to be bias, illogical leaps of faith and hypocrisy that nobody can explain.

It gives disciples like Sir Patrick Vallance carte blanche to impose curfews without any evidence to back up the strategy. We just have to accept as an article of faith that the covid virus will leave you alone until 10pm, after which it’ll attack you with righteous anger. Or that it will leave you alone if you have a substantial meal with your pint of beer. But it’ll turn nasty at closing time.

Followers like Kay Burley and the Sky News team can demand that people are pushed out of their jobs for not complying with Covid regulations. Then go partying in the West End. Then enjoy a six-month break on full pay. The faithful won’t notice.

All Data Deities are infallible.

In 2002, when Ferguson said millions of cows had to be burned, nobody dared to examine the figures or questioned the assumptions.

I am the one true Expert was the message. Follow my Science. Kiss my data arts.

Ferguson is so powerful that every now and then he feels entitled to test the Prime Minister’s faith. Sacrifice an industry for me, said Ferguson. The PM dutifully burned all the cows and killed many livelihoods. And Ferguson saw that it was good.

Now the hospitality industry is on the altar. Millions of small businesses will be slaughtered. That will teach them for their lack of conformity. Newborn business must be sacrificed for the good of the giant corporations.

That concludes my Presentation of the Cross. Any questions?

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Nick Booth
Nicholas Booth is the editor of OhThisBloodyComputer and a freelance technology writer

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