Learn by doing

You don’t need a PhD. Or a masters. You just need to hustle

data science

Wednesday December 13, 2023

data science

TL;DR: Yes, unintelligent people can use things without fully understanding them

While the language is perhaps a bit strong, I agree with the sentiment here.

I don’t have a PhD but have been limited twice in my career by those who wish I had one. What would having a PhD give you that I don’t have?

Well, I trust you more if you had one.

Jeremy Howard, a world renowned research and creator of fast.ai and answers.ai started his lectures on deep learning with “you don’t need to have a math degree, you just need to know a little bit of code”. With that philosophy he’s helped entrepreneurs create amazing products that left his free online program.

Blindspots tho

Concepts are important to understand. Understanding your training data and how the machines learn from them and the biases they’re prone to is very useful, perhaps mission critical, to creating value.

So what’s the line? Well, if you got a PhD you’d probably spend 80% of your time on your dissertation and taking some non relevant coursework. How does that help you today?

Well, you should learn as many concepts as you can. Like driving a car, you don’t need to know hydroplaning but you should learn hydroplaning. You don’t need to know how to drive in snow but you should know that driving a car in the snow with rear wheel drive is a different experience.

If you live in Arizona you don’t need to know how to drive in the snow. Your bias is you’ll never know why that would be necessary.


Be so curious that you explore the boundaries of your space such that you learn “oh, cars work differently in snow, but I don’t have snow so I’m safe”. Once you reach the boundary you probably know enough. Then ship your code and learn by how you messed things up.


Bryan lives somewhere at the intersection of faith, fatherhood, and futurism and writes about tech, books, Christianity, gratitude, and whatever’s on his mind. If you liked reading, perhaps you’ll also like subscribing: