Blog Archives

Where is NYT’s data science team when you need them?

May 29, 2016
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Where is NYT’s data science team when you need them?

The management at New York Times was smart enough to create a data science team but apparently the newsroom has not yet been exposed to STAT 101. Today, NYT printed this headline: "Top C.E.O. Pay Fell -- Yes, Fell -- in 2015" (link to article). I immediately thought, not so fast, are they talking about average pay or median pay. Anyone who has taken STAT 101 knows that when analyzing…

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A multidimensional graphic that holds a number of surprises, via NYT

May 24, 2016
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A multidimensional graphic that holds a number of surprises, via NYT

The New York Times has an eye-catching graphic illustrating the Amtrak crash last year near Philadelphia. The article is here. The various images associated with this article vary in the amount of contextual details offered to readers. This graphic provides...

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Tip of the day: don’t be Theranosed

May 23, 2016
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Theranos (v): to spin stories that appeal to data while not presenting any data To be Theranosed is to fall for scammers who tell stories appealing to data but do not present any actual data. This is worse than story time, in which the storyteller starts out with real data but veers off mid-stream into unsubstantiated froth, hoping you and I got carried away by the narrative flow. Theranos (n):…

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Law versus ethics: how the new overtime pay rule will play out

May 18, 2016
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In any discussion of ethics , someone is bound to bring up the law: it is okay to do something if something is not against the law. The logical conclusion of this belief is that ethics is irrelevant in the presence of the law. The recent stories relating to minimum wage and the overtime pay rule changes (for example, link) argue strongly against such a point of view. The law…

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The many-faced area chart is not usually your best choice

May 16, 2016
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The many-faced area chart is not usually your best choice

I found this chart about the exploding U.S. debt levels in ZeroHedge (link), sourced from Citibank. The top line story is pretty easy to see: total debt levels have almost reached the peak of the 1930s. (Ignore that dreadful labeling...

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Super-informative ping-pong graphic

May 11, 2016
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Super-informative ping-pong graphic

Via Twitter, Mike W. asked me to comment on this WSJ article about ping pong tables. According to the article, ping pong table sales track venture-capital deal flow: This chart is super-informative. I learned a lot from this chart, including:...

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Dreadful analysis shows the importance of numbersense

May 9, 2016
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Last year, Gizmodo capitalized on the fallout from the Ashley Madison hacking scandal and published a sensational article claiming the website that, if you haven't heard, promotes adultery, has "almost no" real women on it. The subtext is that millions of gullible, disloyal males were paying monthly fees to the website to do nothing or, cue the laugh track, to converse with "badly-designed robots." These men, according to Gizmodo, were…

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Dreadful analysis shows the importance of numbersense

May 9, 2016
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Last year, Gizmodo capitalized on the fallout from the Ashley Madison hacking scandal and published a sensational article claiming the website that, if you haven't heard, promotes adultery, has "almost no" real women on it. The subtext is that millions of gullible, disloyal males were paying monthly fees to the website to do nothing or, cue the laugh track, to converse with "badly-designed robots." These men, according to Gizmodo, were…

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The surprising impact of mixing chart forms

May 3, 2016
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The surprising impact of mixing chart forms

At first glance, this Wall Street Journal chart seems unlikely to impress as it breaks a number of "rules of thumb" frequently espoused by dataviz experts. The inconsistency of mixing a line chart and a dot plot. The overplotting of...

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Three ethical viewpoints applied to the Clinton email scandal

April 19, 2016
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Last week, I gave an invited talk at the INFORMS Analytics Conference on ethics in data analytics. This is a follow-up to the HBR article from last year. In the talk, I discussed the need to have some frameworks to think about ethics. There are three main ethical philosophies that one can use to make ethical arguments. *** The Hillary Clinton email scandal is a good place to apply these…

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