Data

102 posts
Visual design is hard, brought to you by NYC subway

This poster showed up in a NY subway train recently. Visual design is hard! What is the message? The intention is, of course, to say Rootine is better than others. (That's the Q corner, if you're following the Trifecta Checkup.) What is the visual telling us (V corner)? It says Rootine is yellow while Others are purple. What do these color mean? There is no legend to help decipher it....

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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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What metaphors give, they take away

Aleks pointed me to the following graphic making the rounds on Twitter: It's being passed around as an example of great dataviz. The entire attraction rests on a risque metaphor. The designer is illustrating a claim that Covid-19 causes erectile dysfunction in men. That's a well-formed question so in using the Trifecta Checkup, that's a pass on the Q corner. What about the visual metaphor? I advise people to think...

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Did prices go up or down? Depends on how one looks at the data

The U.S. media have been flooded with reports of runaway inflation recently, and it's refreshing to see a nice article in the Wall Street Journal that takes a second look at the data. Because as my readers know, raw data can be incredibly deceptive. Inflation typically describes the change in price level relative to the prior year. The month-on-month change in price levels is a simple seasonal adjustment used to...

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Start at zero improves this chart but only slightly

The following chart was forwarded to me recently: It's a good illustration of why the "start at zero" rule exists for column charts. The poor Indian lady looks like a midget in this women's club. Is the average Indian woman really half as tall as the average South African woman? (Surely not!) The problem is only superficially fixed by starting the vertical axis at zero. Doing so highlights the fact...

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Plotting the signal or the noise

Antonio alerted me to the following graphic that appeared in the Economist. This is a playful (?) attempt to draw attention to racism in the game of football (soccer). The analyst proposed that non-white players have played better in stadiums without fans due to Covid19 in 2020 because they have not been distracted by racist abuse from fans, using Italy's Serie A as the case study. The chart struggles to...

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Did the pandemic drive mass migration?

The Wall Street Journal ran this nice compact piece about migration patterns during the pandemic in the U.S. (link to article) I'd look at the chart on the right first. It shows the greatest net flow of people out of the Northeast to the South. This sankey diagram is nicely done. The designer shows restraint in not printing the entire dataset on the chart. If a reader really cares about...

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These are the top posts of 2020

It's always very interesting as a writer to look back at a year's of posts and find out which ones were most popular with my readers. Here are the top posts on Junk Charts from 2020: How to read this chart about coronavirus risk This post about a New York Times scatter plot dates from February, a time when many Americans were debating whether Covid-19 was just the flu. Proportions...

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Is this an example of good or bad dataviz?

This chart is giving me feelings: I first saw it on TV and then a reader submitted it. Let's apply a Trifecta Checkup to the chart. Starting at the Q corner, I can say the question it's addressing is clear and relevant. It's the relationship between Trump and McConnell's re-election. The designer's intended message comes through strongly - the chart offers evidence that McConnell owes his re-election to Trump. Visually,...

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Podcast highlights

Recently, I made a podcast for Ryan Ray, which you can access here. The link sends you to a 14-day free trial to his newsletter, which is where he publishes his podcasts. Ryan contacted me after he read my book Numbers Rule Your World (link). I was happy to learn that he enjoyed the stories, and during the podcast, he gave an example of how he applied the statistical concepts...

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