In Data We Trust
“In God we trust, all others must bring data.” — W. Edward Deming
US dollar’s imprint “In God We Trust” is perhaps the best American marketing ever created, besides Hollywood. It might be wise for 84% of the world to consider following this model. If there was a formula to replicate a nation’s prosperity, it would be an invaluable tool for world economists and politicians.
Ten years ago, an investigation was launched from the United States to study its majority (>50%) religion (Protestant Christianity) to test some hypotheses. Using the scientific method, data was gathered and analyzed to examine claims made by churches around the nation.
One data source (the map above) was of particular interest. It seemed peculiar that countries with a Protestant majority (denomination matters) correlated to another map with the world’s corruption perception index (CPI) and its correlation to GDP per capita. Could religion affect a population’s values and culture, leading to the overall economic success of a nation?
The Culture Hypothesis
Like it or not, a majority of a country’s culture stems from its religion. About 1/3 of the world subscribe to Christianity, but the distinction between denominations and beliefs is hard to discern. The world is no stranger to religious scams and dangerous cults — yet Christian ideals still have enormous influence over Western nations.
In the previous graph, an outlier nation is Japan. However, another data source coincides with the first but shows an additional insight: generally the wealthier a nation, the less religious, except the US. This is also corroborated by other factors.
Enter the age of Big Data. With today’s fake news, false advertising, and interest-funded research, deception has become the norm. In fact, lies are so prevalent and truth so obscure that it is hard to tell them apart anymore. The beauty of data lies in its impartiality; and if used properly, can liberate us from human bias and error.
Can faith hold the key to a better future? Are their proclaimed truths verifiable and reliable?
The results were published in a book about the dominant beliefs of American Christianity, which tries to shed light into why people base their beliefs on lack of proof or evidence - perhaps because they lacked the proper tools. To test this hypothesis, a formula was developed, with scientific, statistic, and business concepts, to find truth in any topic, starting with the Bible.
As a data source, this document is an invaluable asset, being by far the most read book in history. Any scientist searching for truth has the responsibility to properly examine any available sources. Could there be some wisdom in our ancestor’s faiths that helped them build our modern civilizations? Perhaps there is more to religion than just blind faith.
HBO’s Chernobyl series warned: “the real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth at all.” According to Gorbachev, lies marked the collapse of the Soviet Union. They almost ruined the US economy twice with the dot-com bubble and the mortgage crisis.
No one can predict the future, all we know is that there are enormous, unexplored data sources waiting to be shed light. We don’t have to rely on pure faith anymore. Therefore “let there be light”, with data.
Recommended book: The Truth Formula