Citizen data scientists: WE NEED YOU!
First let me ask you a question. Did you know that Miss America’s age is closely correlated with the number of murders by steam and other hot items? Or that the stork population is related to the birth rate?
If your immediate reaction to this was that it was coincidence, then congratulations. You can now print out your certification as a data scientist. Why? Well, put simply: only a well-trained and experienced data scientist would immediately recognize these examples as false correlations, or so Gregory Piatetsky of KDnuggets, the online platform for data mining, asserts.
In his article, “The Mirage of a Citizen Data Scientist”, he gives examples of why citizen data scientists could be considered a curse rather than a blessing.
He cites, for example, the idea of a plane flown by a combination of an untrained pilot and a reliable autopilot. Most of the time, he suggests, the autopilot would be fine. If anything went wrong, however, the autopilot would immediately hand over to the untrained pilot, just when experience was most needed. Piatetsky believes this is similar to citizen data scientists. They are, in effect, largely untrained operators dabbling in data science.
I think, though, that Piatetsky is wrong.