Election visuals 2: informative and playful

In yesterday's post, I reviewed one section of 538's visualization of its election forecasting model, specifically, the post focuses on the probability plot visualization. The visualization, technically called  a pdf, is a mainstay of statistical graphics. While every one of 40,000 scenarios shows up on this chart, it doesn't offer a direct answer to our topline question. What is Nate's call at this point in time? Elsewhere in their post,...

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Election visuals: three views of FiveThirtyEight’s probabilistic forecasts

As anyone who is familiar with Nate Silver's forecasting of U.S. presidential elections knows, he runs a simulation that explores the space of possible scenarios. The polls that provide a baseline forecast make certain assumptions, such as who's a likely voter. Nate's model unshackles these assumptions from the polling data, exploring how the outcomes vary as these assumptions shift. In the most recent simulation, his computer explores 40,000 scenarios, each...

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Putting vaccine trials in boxes

Bloomberg Businessweek has a special edition about vaccines, and I found this chart on the print edition: The chart's got a lot of white space. Its structure is a series of simple "treemaps," one for each type of vaccine. Though simple, such a chart burns a few brain cells. Here, I've extracted the largest block, which corresponds to vaccines that work with the virus's RNA/DNA. I applied a self-sufficiency test,...

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Unlocking the secrets of a marvellous data visualization

The graphics team in my hometown paper SCMP has developed a formidable reputation in data visualization, and I lapped every drop of goodness on this beautiful graphic showing how the coronavirus spread around Hong Kong (in the first wave in April). Marcelo uploaded an image of the printed version to his Twitter. This graphic occupied the entire back page of that day's paper. An online version of the chart is...

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A testing mess: one chart, four numbers, four colors, three titles, wrong units, wrong data

Twitterstan wanted to vote the following infographic off the island: (The publisher's website is here but I can't find a direct link to this graphic.) The mishap is particularly galling given the controversy swirling around this year's A-Level results in the U.K. For U.S. readers, you can think of A-Levels as SAT Subject Tests, which in the U.K. are required of all university applicants, and represent the most important, if...

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Deaths as percent neither of cases nor of population. Deaths as percent of normal.

Yesterday, I posted a note about excess deaths on the book blog (link). The post was inspired by a nice data visualization by the New York Times (link). This is a great example of data journalism. Excess deaths is a superior metric for measuring the effect of Covid-19 on public health. It's better than deaths as percent of cases. Also better than percent of the population.What excess deaths measure is...

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Ask how you can give

A reader and colleague was frustrated with the following graphic that appeared in the otherwise commendable article in National Geographic (link). The NatGeo article provides a history lesson on past pandemics that killed millions. What does the design want to convey to readers? Our attention is drawn to the larger objects, the red triangle on the left or the green triangle on the right. Regarding the red triangle, we learn...

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How many details to include in a chart

This graphic by Bloomberg provides the context for understanding the severity of the Atlantic storm season. (link) At this point of the season, 2020 appears to be one of the most severe in history. I was momentarily fascinated by a feature of modern browser-based data visualization: the death of the aspect ratio. When the browser window is stretched sufficiently wide, the chart above is transformed to this look: The chart...

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Everything in Texas is big, but not this BIG

Long-time reader John forwarded the following chart via Twitter. The chart shows the recent explosive growth in deaths due to Covid-19 in Texas. John flagged this graphic as yet another example in which the data are encoded to the lengths of the squares, not their areas. Fixing this chart just requires fixing the length of one side of the square. I also flipped it to make a conventional column chart....

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On data volume, reliability, uncertainty and confidence bands

This chart from the Economist caught my eye because of the unusual use of color-coded hexagonal tiles. The basic design of the chart is easy to grasp: It relates people's "happiness" to national wealth. The thick black line shows that the average citizen of wealthier countries tends to rate their current life situation better. For readers alert to graphical details, things can get a little confusing. The horizontal "wealth" axis...

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