Monday, April 15, 2013

Critical reading, of charts

Here's a very good look from the Harvard Business Review (free after registration) at how different presentations of data can reflect different interpretations. It's another reminder of how important critical thinking and skepticism are to data you are given. As author Jake Porway states:
The most troubling part of all this is that "we the people" rarely have the skills to see how data is being twisted into each of these visualizations. We tend to treat data as "truth," as if it is immutable and only has one perspective to present. If someone uses data in a visualization, we are inclined to believe it. This myopia is not unlike imagining the red velvet cake we see in front of us to be the only thing that could have been created from the eggs and milk we mixed together to make it. We don't see in the finished product the many transformations and manipulations of the data that were involved, along with their inherent social, political, and technological biases.

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