by Trevor Acy
Is theory dead? Did Google kill it?
Models have oft been employed to test correlations; but in an age with so much data, correlation may have simply became enough. No longer is proving causality necessary. Companies like Google are approaching data the way the geniuses behind the Baseball Prospectus began approaching baseball, which is to look at a collection of data for its mathematical significance first and worry about the context in which it is found later. Google was one of the first companies to capitalize on this in the business world. They approached advertising this way, only finding where an ad would work the best and not caring why.
An article on Wired.com shows why George Box’s famous quote “All models are wrong, but some are useful” may be becoming only half true. Many come to the defense of models in the comments section claiming that this era of copious amounts of data will strengthen method and not destroy it. But whether the scientific method is obsolete or not, this is surely a new movement in the scientific world unlike anything that has ever been seen.
*Illustration by Marian Bantjes from Wired.com