Poll Results: Data Scientists against a Pledge

The recent KDnuggets Poll asked if there should be a Data Scientist Pledge, and results show an interesting split. While majority of data scientists are against a pledge, a majority of non-professionals favor it. Is this a problem for data scientists?

The recent KDnuggets Poll asked 2 questions:

  • Should there be a Data Scientist Pledge?
  • Do you consider yourself a Data Scientist or Analytics Professional?

Here are the results (based on 125 votes, 99 self-reporting Data Scientists) which suggest a split between data scientists and "lay-people".

Favor Pledge Data Scientist NOT
Data Scientist
No (59 votes)  53%  27%
Not sure (18 votes)  12%  23%
Yes (48 votes)  35%  50%

In this table, the bar height represents the number of voters, and bar width is the percent with the given vote.

The majority of the data scientists were sceptical and did not support the pledge, while the majority of non-data scientists supported the pledge. Further geographic analysis of the second group showed that it was the Asian non-data scientists that were in favor of the pledge. Among data scientists, the European ones were especially strongly against a pledge, followed by US ones.

Of course there are many reasons data scientists can be against a pledge, such as it is meaningless without an enforcing organization.

However, a split between the public and data scientists on this issue can cause a problem for data scientists, if the public wants to keep them to a higher standard than they are willing to accept.


Gregory James, Data Scientist Pledge
Without professional licensing, and all the legal ramifications that go with it, pledges are meaningless. That stands for the ACM's efforts too.

Mike, What could possibly go wrong?
Dear Ph.D. applicant,

We regret to inform you that your application has been denied. We thank you for your dissertation, and many years of fine research at this university, but unfortunately you were accused six times of violating Copyright law, and we have evidence that you may have communicated via Facebook with a known hacker. Since these activities are clear violations of the infallible oath of computer science professionals, we cannot in good conscience extend to you the degree for which you have applied. We apologize for the inconvenience that this will undoubtedly have in your life, but remain firm in our stance that math must never be used for unapproved activities.

The Dean of the College of Computer Science

Gregory PS, Editor, Data Scientist Pledge
Given the increasing importance of data scientists, would it be useful to have a data scientist pledge as a rite of initiation or is it a pointless exercise?