Blog Archives

Another day, another misuse of averages

July 30, 2014
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The other day, we are told that if we walk anywhere in New York, we will bump into a few millionaires (link). This week, we are told that wherever we go in the US, "Roughly, every third person you pass on the street is going to have debt in collections" (link). The woman who said this has a PhD in Economics from Cornell. Oh please. The claim comes from yet…

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Go to my other blog now

July 28, 2014
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In case you don't see my other blog, the most recent post should have been posted here: The unkind fate of data graphics in the media.

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The unkind fate of data graphics in the media

July 28, 2014
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The unkind fate of data graphics in the media

Journalism suffers from an archiving challenge in the digital age, which I wrote about here. Even worse is the fate of data graphics. This has always been an issue, as digital archives of newspapers do not save any of the graphics. (Try going to the New York Times archive to see for yourself). The new wave of graphing technology is making this problem worse! The new technology embeds charting instructions…

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The top dog among jealous dogs

July 25, 2014
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The top dog among jealous dogs

Is data visualization worth paying for? In some quarters, this may be a controversial question. If you are having doubts, just look at some examples of great visualization. This week, the NYT team brings us a wonderful example. The story...

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General statistical education is an utter failure

July 23, 2014
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As if we need more evidence. The statistics community loves to think of our subject as highly practical and relevant to the general population. And this is true. The average person has a poor grasp of basic statistical thinking, even if he or she has taken one or more statistics courses. This is true, yet many in our community are in denial. Chapter 1 of Numbers Rule Your World deals…

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Revisiting the home run data

July 21, 2014
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Revisiting the home run data

Note to New York metro readers: I'm an invited speaker at NYU's "Art and Science of Brand Storytelling" summer course which starts tomorrow. I will be speaking on Thursday, 12-1 pm. You can still register here. *** The home run...

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Digital journalism has an archiving challenge

July 18, 2014
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While making slides for a presentation, I wanted to scan a chart from the paper copy of the Wall Street Journal. This was a chart from several years ago, and I can't find it online. I went to the NYU Library, expecting this to be an easy task. Find the bound copies of the paper, or the microfiche, right? Nope. Apparently, we are in the digital age now. This means…

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Interactivity as overhead

July 17, 2014
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Interactivity as overhead

Making data graphics interactive should improve the user experience. In practice, interactivity too often becomes overhead, making it harder for users to understand the data on the graph. Reader Joe D. (via Twitter) admires the statistical sophistication behind this graphic...

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Around the blogosphere

July 10, 2014
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A number of folks have reacted to various blogs and talks I have recently given. I'm glad that my writing has inspired others, and I recommend reading these wonderful responses. *** Diane Ravitch, the eminent scholar of New York education and author of several great books, found my 2011 post about Bill Gates's view of education. Here is her reaction: How refreshing to know that statisticians like Kaiser Fung are…

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Return of the barrel

July 10, 2014
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Return of the barrel

Back in 2008, I wrote about this unfortunate chart by the Guardian (link): The barrel imagery interferes with communicating the data. The green portion looks about the same size as the red portion when the number is four times smaller....

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