The gift of small edits and subtraction

While making the chart on fertility rates (link), I came across a problem that pops up quite often, and is  ignored by most software programs. Here is an earlier version of the chart I later discarded: Compare this to the version I published in the blog post: Aside from adding the chart title, there is one major change. I removed the empty plots from the grid. This is a visualization...

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Visualizing fertility rates around the globe

The following chart dropped on my Twitter feed. It's an ambitious chart that tries to do a lot. The underlying data set contains fertility rate data from over 200 countries over 20 years. The basic chart form is a column chart that is curled up into a ball. The column chart is given colors that map to continents. All countries are grouped into five continents. The column chart can only...

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Charts that ask questions about the German election

In the prior post about Canadian elections, I suggested that designers expand beyond plots of one variable at a time. Today, I look at a project by DataWrapper on the German elections which happened this week. Thanks to long-time blog supporter Antonio for submitting the chart. The following is the centerpiece of Lisa's work: CDU/CSU is Angela Merkel's party, represented by the black color. The chart answers one question only:...

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Ridings, polls, elections, O Canada

Stephen Taylor reached out to me about his work to visualize Canadian elections data. I took a look. I appreciate the labor of love behind this project. He led with a streamgraph, which presents a quick overview of relative party strengths over time. I am no Canadian election expert, and I did a bare minimum of research in writing this blog. From this chart, I learn that: the Canadians have...

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Tongue in cheek but a master stroke

Andrew jumped on the Benford bandwagon to do a tongue-in-cheek analysis of numbers in Hollywood movies (link). The key graphic is this: Benford's Law is frequently invoked to prove (or disprove) fraud with numbers by examining the distribution of first digits. Andrew extracted movies that contain numbers in their names - mostly but not always sequences of movies with sequels. The above histogram (gray columns) are the number of movies...

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A little stitch here, a great graphic is knitted

The Wall Street Journal used the following graphic to compare hurricanes Ida and Katrina (link to paywalled article). This graphic illustrates the power of visual communications. Readers can learn a lot from it. The paths of the storms can be compared. The geographical locations of the landfalls are shown. The strengthening of wind speeds as the hurricanes moved toward Louisiana is also displayed. Ida is clearly a lesser storm than...

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Visually displaying multipliers

As I'm preparing a blog about another real-world study of Covid-19 vaccines, I came across the following chart (the chart title is mine). As background, this is the trend in Covid-19 cases in the U.K. in the last couple of months, courtesy of OurWorldinData.org. The React-1 Study sends swab kits to randomly selected people in England in order to assess the prevalence of Covid-19. Every month, there is a new...

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Working hard at clarity

As I am preparing another blog post about the pandemic, I came across the following data graphic, recently produced by the CDC for a vaccine advisory board meeting: This is not an example of effective visual communications. *** For one thing, readers are directed to scour the footnotes to figure out what's going on. If we ignore those for the moment, we see clusters of bubbles that have remained pretty...

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Simple charts are the hardest to do right

The CDC website has a variety of data graphics about many topics, one of which is U.S. vaccinations. I was looking for information about Covid-19 data broken down by age groups, and that's when I landed on these charts (link). The left panel shows people with at least one dose, and the right panel shows those who are "fully vaccinated." This simple chart takes an unreasonable amount of time to...

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Check your presumptions while you’re reading this chart about Israel’s vaccination campaign

On July 30, Israel began administering third doses of mRNA vaccines to targeted groups of people. This decision was controversial since there is no science to support it. The policymakers do have educated guesses by experts based on best-available information. By science, I mean actual evidence. Since no one has previously been given three shots, there can be no data on which anyone can root such a decision. Nevertheless, the...

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