Science

44 posts
How to read this cost-benefit chart, and why it is so confusing

Long-time reader Antonio R. found today's chart hard to follow, and he isn't alone. It took two of us multiple emails and some Web searching before we think we "got it".   Antonio first encountered the chart in a book review (link) of Hal Harvey et. al, Designing Climate Solutions. It addresses the general topic of costs and benefits of various programs to abate CO2 emissions. The reviewer praised the...

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Why scientists need to be better at visualization

For Knowable Magazine, Betsy Mason looks at the state of (not so good) data visualization in science and offers some direction for how it can improve: [S]cience is littered with poor data visualizations that confound readers and can even mislead the scientists who make them. Deficient data visuals can reduce the quality and impede the progress of scientific research. And with more and more scientific images making their way into...

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Choosing between individuals and aggregates

Friend/reader Thomas B. alerted me to this paper that describes some of the key chart forms used by cancer researchers. It strikes me that many of the "new" charts plot granular data at the individual level. This heatmap showing gene expressions show one column per patient: This so-called swimmer plot shows one bar per patient: This spider plot shows the progression of individual patients over time. Key events are marked...

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As Dorian confounds meteorologists, we keep our minds clear on hurricane graphics, and discover correlation as our friend

As Hurricane Dorian threatens the southeastern coast of the U.S., forecasters are fretting about the lack of consensus among various predictive models used to predict the storm’s trajectory. The uncertainty of these models, as reflected in graphical displays, has been a controversial issue in the visualization community for some time. Let’s start by reviewing a visual design that has captured meteorologists in recent years, something known as the cone map....

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Too much of a good thing

Several of us discussed this data visualization over twitter last week. The dataviz by Aero Data Lab is called “A Bird’s Eye View of Pharmaceutical Research and Development”. There is a separate discussion on STAT News. Here is the top section of the chart: We faced a number of hurdles in understanding this chart as there is so much going on. The size of the shapes is perhaps the first...

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It’s hot even in Alaska

A twitter user pointed to the following chart, which shows that Alaska has experienced extreme heat this summer, with the July statewide average temperature shattering the previous record; This column chart is clear in its primary message: the red column shows that the average temperature this year is quite a bit higher than the next highest temperature, recorded in July 2004. The error bar is useful for statistically-literate people -...

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Tightening the bond between the message and the visual: hello stats-cats

The editors of ASA's Amstat News certainly got my attention, in a recent article on school counselling. A research team asked two questions. The first was HOW ARE YOU FELINE? Stats and cats. The pun got my attention and presumably also made others stop and wonder. The second question was HOW DO YOU REMEMBER FEELING while you were taking a college statistics course? Well, it's hard to imagine the average...

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Inspiration from a waterfall of pie charts: illustrating hierarchies

Reader Antonio R. forwarded a tweet about the following "waterfall of pie charts" to me: Maarten Lamberts loved these charts (source: here). I am immediately attracted to the visual thinking behind this chart. The data are presented in a hierarchy with three levels. The levels are nested in the sense that the pieces in each pie chart add up to 100%. From the first level to the second, the category...

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The Periodic Table, a challenge in information organization

Reader Chris P. points me to this article about the design of the Periodic Table. I then learned that 2019 is the “International Year of the Periodic Table,” according to the United Nations. Here is the canonical design of the Periodic Table that science students are familiar with. (Source: Wikipedia.) The Periodic Table is an exercise of information organization and display. It's about adding structure to over 100 elements, so...

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Form and function: when academia takes on weed

I have a longer article on the sister blog about the research design of a study claiming 420 "cannabis" Day caused more road accident fatalities (link). The blog also has a discussion of the graphics used to present the analysis, which I'm excerpting here for dataviz fans. The original chart looks like this: The question being asked is whether April 20 is a special day when viewed against the backdrop...

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