Justin Lane, Wesley Wildman and I have just had an article published online in the journal Method & Theory in the Study of Religion. Here is a link to the online site and here is a link to a preprint.

Abstract: “Here we respond to a recent article in this journal by Leonardo Ambasciano, in which he offers a high-level critique of “big data,” artificial intelligence, and computational approaches in the study of religion. The main thrust of his argument is that these approaches are fundamentally problematic both because of their negative effect on the humanities and because they inappropriately rely on “neoliberal philanthrocapitalist” funding. In our response, we refer to our experience working with computational scientists and humanities scholars in collaborative teams, where they stand shoulder to shoulder in equal collaboration with one another, each side relying on the distinctive value that the other provides as they attempt to create clearer and more valid descriptions, analyses, and explanations of complex human behaviors. We correct several errors of fact in Ambasciano’s article, focusing first on ideological and ethical issues and then on methodological and epistemological issues. We conclude by emphasizing several points on which we agree with his assessment.”