Data Science Double BAM! | Joshua Starmer of StatQuest on The Artists of Data Science Podcast

Some notable segments from the show

[9:05] How music has helped Joshua become more creative

Where to listen to the show

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, YouTube, or on your favorite podcast platform.

Joshua journey in statistics and data science

Joshua’s journey into stats began when he took a statistics class as a graduate student because he thought the women in the class were cute. He thought that he had to become good at stats to get their attention.

Where is the field headed in 2–5 years?

Joshua sees the field of data science becoming more and more important. He believes that the field is currently like the wild west, where there is a lot of data being generated and people don’t know exactly what to do with it.

What will separate great data scientists from the rest of them?

Joshua believes that the great data scientists are the ones that understand the main concepts, without getting lost in the details. This allows them to stay focused on the more important ideas without getting caught in the hype.

Key takeaways from the episode

Music theory

[6:38] Music theory is a way to break down music into its components of harmony, rhythm and melody. Learning how to break down music into its individual components has allowed Joshua to carry over this skillset into machine learning and data science, where he now does this for algorithms.

Inspiration for StatsQuest

[17:19] StatsQuest began as a way to teach basic statistical fundamentals to others. Videos were recorded as a reference, so that new employees at the genetics lab that Joshua worked at could learn some of these stats topics. These videos snowballed on Youtube and grew to what StatsQuest is today.

Most challenging part of creating content

[24:00] There are many aspects of creating content that can be terrifying. But the most terrifying aspect is beginning. Staring at the blank page and creating the rough draft can be a daunting task. It is so simple, yet so scary.

Most misunderstood concept from statistics and machine learning

[28:04] The most misunderstood concept in statistics is that the probability of some specific measurement can be zero. When you want to be precise, having a very specific measurement starts having a smaller probability, getting closer to zero.

Data Science: Art or science?

[34:36] It’s a little bit of both. Some tools will always have their place in data science that have been around for many years, and these tools are based in solid statistical theory. On the other hand, there is an art to how the data can be presented.

The creative process in data science

[36:38] Being creative is critical in data science. All data scientists create insights out of data. That is the very nature of the field. If you are someone who doesn’t believe that you are creative, think again. Humans are innately creative. We create things all the time.

Memorable quotes

The one thing that Josh wants you to learn from their story

[39:46] You don’t have to be the smartest kid in math class to be good at data science. I struggle with learning certain concepts, and I need to take things slowly. But taking things slowly has allowed me to be able to break concepts down into understandable and easy to explain pieces for others. If I can do it, so can anyone else.

From the lightning round

Future of StatQuest in the next 2–4 years

Josh want’s to see StatQuest grow! Right now it’s just him running the show — which is no doubt a lot of work. “If I can work with like-minded people, I can cover a lot more information”. He’s got a vision to create a StatQuest curriculum and maybe even a StatQuest University.

Best advice

From my dad: Do something you are passionate about, and focus on the main idea.

Advice to 18 year old self

“When I was 18, I wanted to be a professional cello player. I wanted to write music and create film scores. I wouldn’t give any advice to my younger self, because I probably wouldn’t believe what I would end up being passionate about.”

Recommended book

Neal Stephenson’s books. They contain action and philosophy, and who doesn’t love that combination.

Source of motivation

“I won’t be here forever, so I need to get things done now.”

Find Joshua Online


Episode transcript

You are welcome to share the below transcript (up to 500 words) in media articles (e.g., The New York Times, LA Times, The Guardian), on your personal website, in a non-commercial article or blog post (e.g., Medium), and/or on a personal social media account for non-commercial purposes, provided that you include attribution to “The Artists of Data Science” and link back to the URL.

Full Episode on YouTube



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
The Artists of Data Science

The Artists of Data Science

The ONLY personal development podcast for data scientists.