uncertainty

9 posts
✚ Navigating Through the Uncertainty and Messiness of Data – The Process 179

Welcome to issue #179 of The Process, the newsletter for FlowingData members that looks closer at how the charts get made. I’m Nathan Yau, and this week I’m thinking about the uncertainty and messiness of data and how we connect back to the real world. Become a member for access to this — plus tutorials, courses, and guides.

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Distribution of snowfall estimates to show uncertainty

For NYT’s The Upshot, Aatish Bhatia, Josh Katz and Margot Sanger-Katz show the full distribution of expected snowfall in your area instead of just the middle: The range can be wide. That’s because predicting snow remains tricky, especially several days out, said Alex Lamers, a warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service. Getting a snowfall total right requires predicting the path of a storm correctly, estimating the amount of...

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False positives with prenatal tests for rare conditions

Sarah Kliff and Aatish Bhatia for NYT’s The Upshot look at the uncertainty of prenatal tests for rare conditions. For some tests, the results are more often wrong than they are right, which causes issues when expecting parents don’t know that. Along with square pie charts, the piece goes into more detail with unit charts to explain what the percentages mean from a counts point of view. So if a...

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Job growth was underestimated

Andrew Van Dam for The Washington Post used a bar chart with corrections to show new monthly estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for job growth: After the revisions, disappointing months like August looked a lot more like October, a month that was hailed as a labor market rebound. In hindsight, while a blockbuster June and July were even better than they looked, they didn’t lead to months of...

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Writing about probability in a way that people will understand

We see probabilities mentioned in the news, in weather forecasts, during sporting events, political arguments, business reports, elections, medical advice, and scientific findings. But probability is a tricky concept that not all (most?) people understand. Grace Huckins for The Open Notebook outlines useful ways to communicate the numbers more clearly — to increase the chances readers do understand. On using concrete numbers over percentages: Concrete numbers can also make statistics...

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How perception can save lives

Visualization and perception researcher Lace Padilla was on the kid-centric show Mission Unstoppale to talk about visualizing uncertainty: I approve of this message. Tags: Lace Padilla, Mission Unstoppable, uncertainty

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Climate change and uncertainty

In his new data-driven documentary, Neil Halloran digs into the uncertainty attached to estimates for climate change. Halloran’s argument is that we have to understand the limitations of forecasting the future before we can change it. Tags: climate change, documentary, Neil Halloran, uncertainty

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✚ Uncertain Words and Uncertain Visualization, Better Together

People's interpretation of a chart can change if you use differents words to describe it, even if the data stays the same. Read More

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Election needles are back

The NYT election needles of uncertainty are back, and they’re about to go live (if they haven’t already). I’m not watching, but in case that’s your thing, there you go. It’s a little different this time around, because of the pandemic and mail-in voting. There’s no national needle this time. Instead, there are three needles for Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina, because they’re battleground states and the necessary data to...

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Presidential Plinko

To visualize uncertainty in election forecasts, Matthew Kay from Northwestern University used a Plinko metaphor. The height of each board is based on the distribution of the forecast, and each ball drop is a potential outcome. The animation plays to eventually shows a full distribution. See it in action. (And Kay made his R code available on GitHub.) Tags: election, Matthew Kay, Plinko, R, uncertainty

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