Friday, February 3, 2017

Announcing Visual Trumpery: A lecture tour

(UPDATE 08/30/2017: The Visual Trumpery has now a website. See all the dates and places there. More will be added soon.)

Trumpery means worthless nonsense, something that is, simultaneously, deceitful and showy. When I learned about this splendid and timely word, I immediately thought that it could be the right title for a two-hour presentation —and even a book— that I've been entertaining for a while. It'd describe strategies to fight back against the deluge of bullshit coming from left and right (sleaziness is quite bipartisan,) and it'd be not just for data designers or journalists, but for school teachers and citizens in general.

This morning I thought that I could do a tour of free talks, titling them Visual Trumpery (I'm still undecided about the subtitle.) I'd like to begin in the second semester of 2017. Maybe with your help.

I've already been contacted by people who might bring this talk to New York, Atlanta, Portland, Barcelona, Paris, etc. If you're interested in hosting a Visual Trumpery event in your city, contact me. I'll give priority to U.S. cities, but I'm not ruling out other countries.

Here's what I propose:

1. I won't charge my regular daily fee. I'll waive salary. You'll only need to cover a roundtrip flight (coach,) hotel, if needed (I'm not picky,) taxi, and meals (I'm a very easy guest.) I'd also appreciate a glass of red wine or two, but that's not mandatory.

2. The talk will cover data, visualization, and infographics, but it won't be limited to them. I'd like the presentation to be a bit broader: Improving rational thinking among the public, fostering a better understanding of probability and uncertainty, etc.

3. The talk must not be limited to your organization, company, or educational institution. It must be open to the public, free, and promoted widely. Closer to the Summer, I'll try to come up with a flyer and a poster you can use to spread the word. I may even create a small dedicated website.

Let's see if we can make this happen. Looking forward to hearing from you.


  1. Is a clever title, but aren't you worried that it may deter some people from attending who could benefit from the message?

  2. Is your goal to really be bipartisan? I haven't seen too much bipartisanship in this area in your twitter feed. It's possible that you only appear less bipartisan due to the recent Trump election but it's still fair to ask if you a) were this passionate regarding the Obama administration and b) if you'll actually make sure to address issues on both the left and right.

    1. Come to the talk to see for yourself —and also to learn about the distinction that I make between being balanced (which I believe is wrong) and being honest and truthful (which I believe is right.) Indeed, I'll discuss examples from the left and the right, but it likely won't be a perfect 50-50 split. Unfortunately, perhaps because of historical circumstances, sheer dishonesty these days is more prominent in specific areas of the ideological fringes. That's what I'll focus on.

      An aside: It is not me who is making facts look partisan. That is what makes me sound incensed. The level of dishonesty of previous administrations —as bad as they were: Clinton, Bush, Obama, etc.— is not in the same league as the current one and its media supporters like Breitbart or InfoWars. Not even close.

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  4. I would love to host with the data viz for development group here in DC - let me know how to connect on next steps, or if there's already an event planned for the capital, how we could help to promote!

  5. Are you still accepting requests?

  6. Would you please consider making and rendering publicly available at least one video recording of your presentation? While I'm registered for and enormously eager to attend your NYC presentation, doing so might prove impossible due to a work commitment.