Making Data Incomprehensible

March 8, 2023

I spotted a short write up with 100 pictures called “1 Dataset 100 Visualizations.” The write up presents a simple table:


And converts or presents the data 100 different ways.

Here’s an example:


My reactions to the examples are:

  1. Why are the colors presented with low contrast. Many of the charts’ graphics are incomprehensible. The texts’ illegibility underscores the disconnect between being understood and being in a weird world of incomprehensibility.
  2. What’s wrong with the basic table? It works. Why create a graph? Oh, I know. To be clever. Nope, not clever. Performative demonstration of numerical expertise perhaps?
  3. The Wall Street Journal and other “real news” organizations love these types of obscurification. I can visualize the goose bumps which form on the arms of these individuals. The anticipation of making something fuzzy is a thrilling moment.

Yikes. Marketing methods to be unclear.

Stephen E Arnold, March 8, 2023


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