Developing Analytic Talent: Becoming a Data Scientist

tags: statistics

I did not enjoy this book at all. I couldn’t figure out, for the life of me, who the target audience is. It appears to be one of three:

  1. People wanting a job in some statistical analysis field

  2. Business people trying to understand the same

  3. Actual statisticians

It’s that last one that’s important, because there are vast sections of this book completely inaccessible to anyone who doesn’t have a thorough understanding of statistics. There are pages upon pages of statistical theory with no attempt to make it understandable to anyone other than people in that field.

The book careens around its scope. In sections, it’s a guide to get a job, completely with sample resumes, proposals, salary guides, etc. In other places, it has ideas of products you could develop as a startup. In other places, it’s a handbook to actually solving deep statistical problems.

The organization of the book is a disaster, with the chapter headings having little relevance to what was in them. Chapters bounce around to different topics and levels of understanding with wild abandon. I kept thinking, “Who the hell edited this mess?” The book needs to be taken apart at the section level, then re-assembled in a better order. It’s like someone wrote the book on index cards, then shuffled them randomly.

Additionally, there’s a palpable arrogance to the writing. I’m quite sure the author is an expert in the field, and I know this because he kept injecting himself into the book, talking about his experience and his “state of the art” theories, and why some other people were “fake” data scientists, etc. He’s clearly very smart, and this book seemed to be his attempt to prove that.

Given the huge variation in intended audience, I can’t see how this book would be valuable to anyone. If you have no (or limited) experience in statistics, then about half the book will be completely wasted on you. If you have enough experience to understand it, then I think the other parts might be pointless – you likely already have a job and know how to write a resume. If you need help establishing a professional services firm, there are other books about specifically that which do it much better.

I think the author absolutely had a point and the qualifications to make it. I just think he didn’t have a clear understanding of his reader, and needed significant help in organizing his thoughts.

Book Info