Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Just because an important event happened at an inflection point, you cannot infer that it is the cause of that inflection

When facing simplistic charts like the one below your brain should scream “confounding!” In other words: there are too many ignored variables here to infer that Obamacare had any influence in the job market. It may well be that it had a negative impact, but that this impact was counterbalanced by other positive factors that the designer/journalist/activist decided not to show. We don't really know. The chart is devoid of sorely needed context. It proves nothing.

Just to remember a maxim inspired by Nigel Holmes: visualizations and infographics must never simplify; they must clarify. And, in order to clarify, sometimes you'll need to increase the amount of information included, not reduce it.