I agree that often times data is used to create a sense of authority where none rightly exists. I will go a bit farther to say that it often is used to create the illusion that a particular decision is the only plausible one. People use it to claim they have no agency over a policy or a decision when in fact they are swimming in it.

I do think in most of the cases where data is being used to create such a false sense of objectivity, the practitioner is rarely attempting to actively deceive the audience. The are either taking shortcuts to serve some greater point or they are pulling a Medawar. "Its author can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself."

But we data folk do have tools that help us to keep from fooling ourselves. I think the piece focuses on cases where the truths under consideration are more "analytic" in the very old sense of the word. https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195396577/obo-9780195396577-0044.xml

But data humans also deliver synthetic truths, and in many cases we can undertake activities that can check the underlying veracity of some of our claims. We can look for testimony from primary sources, we can do external validation. We can use statistical distributions to see if your synthetic metrics are producing stochastic variations or whether they can be attributed to some consistent cause. We can run a damn experiment.

I am not sure that the law has any such tools to ground itself in something other than motivated reasoning. Or I am not sure they are any good. I will leave that discussion to others.

It is true that there is to some degree, opinion all the way down in the data. You can't be perfectly objective. But I think that the implicit inference that we should despair of the idea that some opinions are more objective than others is a rhetorical conceit we would not accept if we were not already feeling catastrophic about the subject. We would not accept an argument that a heuristic is no good just by knowing it can't seperate cases perfectly.

(I also feel it is worth pointing out that pessimism also tends to lend an argument a deceptive feeling of objectivity in much the same way that meaningless enumeration can.)

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This is the first post where I think I have beef. I don't disagree with the overall point but I do think it is incomplete in a way that is important.

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