Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Uncertainty, graphicacy, and the power of statistics

“Power from Statistics” is an initiative by Eurostat and the European Political Strategy Centre. Their conference in Brussels begins today, so they've just launched their report. I attended one of the roundtables that led to this document, so they asked me whether I'd write an article for it.

The result is “Uncertainty and graphicacy: How should statisticians, journalists, and designers reveal uncertainty in graphics for public consumption?” (PDF), which consists of some miscellaneous thoughts about why the public —including journalists!— don't grasp uncertainty, how people even misread common charts, graphs, and maps, and what we could do about it. If you have attended any of the Visual Trumpery lectures, a few of these musings may sound familiar.

This is an essay in the literal sense: Writing intended to help myself think and play with some ideas, such as the timeline of “Golden Ages” and “Dark Ages” of visualization (below,) so take everything with a grain of salt. I'm more than willing to change my mind on anything I wrote. Enjoy.

(This same article will appear soon —abbreviated— in a book about visualization in the news. Consider ordering it. It looks fantastic.)