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How to Lie With Data
SUDS Workshop, December 6th, 2016
David Newbury (@workergnome)
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@...
Who am I?
—Programmer
—Animator
—Data Visualizer
—Teacher
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 2
This is not an ethics class.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 3
Two goals for today:
• Learn to Persuade.
• Become Suspicious.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 4
If you want to
lie...
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 5
...there's an
easy way.
Falsify Data.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 6
We can be more
subtle than that.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 7
Department of
Veterans Affairs
Take this data.
Looks about the same?
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 8
Department of
Veterans Affairs
Let's compare them directly.
Not very dramatic, is it?
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (...
Department of
Veterans Affairs
We can do better than that...
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 10
Department of
Veterans Affairs
Or, we could be
really, really
sneaky effective.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@worker...
What is a graph?
A visual summary of information
for human interpretation.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergno...
Graphs are
visual.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 13
Graphs summarize.
288,987 census blocks, 9.562 million people. 1 picture.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnom...
Graphs contain
Information.
• Data - facts or statements
• Information - relationships
• Knowledge - usefulness
• Wisdom -...
Graphs are
for humans.
That big white triangle
does not exist.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 16
Graphs are
Interpreted.
Graphs are confusing, but...
People trust you.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) ...
How to Lie with Statistics (1954)
[A misleading graph] is vastly more effective,
however, because it contains no adjectives...
Graphs
appear true.
2000 children each year
suffer spinal injuries.
That's 0.0000003% of children.
How to Lie with Data: Da...
Words are
powerful.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 20
Misleading Titles
This is actually showing
college attendance.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 21
Too Blatant?
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 22
Loaded Labels
How "substantial" is the drop?
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 23
Leading Captions
Is the decrease
permanent or temporary?
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 24
Images are
more powerful.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 25
Pictographs
Length vs. Count
Humans compare length...
before counting objects.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@worke...
Pictographs
Length vs. Area
Making something 3x larger...
makes it appear 9x bigger.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (...
Perspective
3D looks like the future...
but it distorts ratios.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 28
Maps and Area
We assign importance to size...
even if the size is irrelevant.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@worker...
A momentary
pause.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 30
Choosy
Choosers
Choose
Carefully.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 31
Anchoring Comparisons
What will you compare
your selection to?
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 32
Exes vs. Wyes
Comparing two things...
implies they are related.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 33
Axis as Allies
One line is total cost...
The other earnings per year.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 34
Pick your Points
Change is really dramatic...
if you pick the points.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 35
Insufficient Resolution
Even if you don't cheat...
You can hide by sampling.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergno...
Choosing
your sample.
The beginning and the end...
Are what people will notice.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@work...
Watching
out for axis
manipulation.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 38
Starting from Zero
Things begin at zero...
so you can see change.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 39
Choosing a Zero
Choosing what counts as zero
can be just as important.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) ...
Stretching the Truth
Same data...
But one appears more volatile.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 41
Math
is hard.How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 42
Relative Sizes
1 + 1
equals: 2 4!
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 43
Giving Less than 100%
13 + 13 + 19 + 14
equals: 59 100%!
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 44
Everything Always Up.
Adding things to each other...
Always makes them larger.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@worke...
There are
others ways
to cheat.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 46
Breaking Norms
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 47
Hiding Expert Information
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 48
Conclusions
Go Here.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 49
Your job is to direct attention.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 50
Good visualizations have a point.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 51
There's a fine line between
storytelling and lying.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 52
My favorite example
3 versions of the same chart...
totally different stories.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@worker...
How To Not Lie:
1). The visuals should match the numbers.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 54
How To Not Lie:
2). Labels should be honest and accurate.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 55
How To Not Lie:
3). Full context should be provided.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 56
How To Not Lie:
4). Expert information should be conveyed.
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 57
Thank you.
Source: http://xkcd.com/688/
How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 58
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How to Lie with Data

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Data visualization is a powerful tool for telling stories with data. However, not all stories are true.

This talk will demonstrate, using real examples, of how to conceal, deceive, and outright lie with data through omissions, visual design, and other techniques. While I don't recommend these practices, knowing how they work and how to use them will provide new ways to think about your data visualization, make you a more sophisticated consumer of data, and help you realize when you're accidentally lying.

Published in: Technology
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How to Lie with Data

  1. 1. How to Lie With Data SUDS Workshop, December 6th, 2016 David Newbury (@workergnome) How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 1
  2. 2. Who am I? —Programmer —Animator —Data Visualizer —Teacher How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 2
  3. 3. This is not an ethics class. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 3
  4. 4. Two goals for today: • Learn to Persuade. • Become Suspicious. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 4
  5. 5. If you want to lie... How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 5
  6. 6. ...there's an easy way. Falsify Data. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 6
  7. 7. We can be more subtle than that. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 7
  8. 8. Department of Veterans Affairs Take this data. Looks about the same? How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 8
  9. 9. Department of Veterans Affairs Let's compare them directly. Not very dramatic, is it? How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 9
  10. 10. Department of Veterans Affairs We can do better than that... How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 10
  11. 11. Department of Veterans Affairs Or, we could be really, really sneaky effective. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 11
  12. 12. What is a graph? A visual summary of information for human interpretation. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 12
  13. 13. Graphs are visual. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 13
  14. 14. Graphs summarize. 288,987 census blocks, 9.562 million people. 1 picture. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 14
  15. 15. Graphs contain Information. • Data - facts or statements • Information - relationships • Knowledge - usefulness • Wisdom - real meaning How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 15
  16. 16. Graphs are for humans. That big white triangle does not exist. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 16
  17. 17. Graphs are Interpreted. Graphs are confusing, but... People trust you. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 17
  18. 18. How to Lie with Statistics (1954) [A misleading graph] is vastly more effective, however, because it contains no adjectives or adverbs to spoil the illusion of objectivity, there's nothing anyone can pin on you. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 18
  19. 19. Graphs appear true. 2000 children each year suffer spinal injuries. That's 0.0000003% of children. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 19
  20. 20. Words are powerful. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 20
  21. 21. Misleading Titles This is actually showing college attendance. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 21
  22. 22. Too Blatant? How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 22
  23. 23. Loaded Labels How "substantial" is the drop? How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 23
  24. 24. Leading Captions Is the decrease permanent or temporary? How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 24
  25. 25. Images are more powerful. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 25
  26. 26. Pictographs Length vs. Count Humans compare length... before counting objects. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 26
  27. 27. Pictographs Length vs. Area Making something 3x larger... makes it appear 9x bigger. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 27
  28. 28. Perspective 3D looks like the future... but it distorts ratios. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 28
  29. 29. Maps and Area We assign importance to size... even if the size is irrelevant. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 29
  30. 30. A momentary pause. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 30
  31. 31. Choosy Choosers Choose Carefully. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 31
  32. 32. Anchoring Comparisons What will you compare your selection to? How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 32
  33. 33. Exes vs. Wyes Comparing two things... implies they are related. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 33
  34. 34. Axis as Allies One line is total cost... The other earnings per year. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 34
  35. 35. Pick your Points Change is really dramatic... if you pick the points. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 35
  36. 36. Insufficient Resolution Even if you don't cheat... You can hide by sampling. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 36
  37. 37. Choosing your sample. The beginning and the end... Are what people will notice. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 37
  38. 38. Watching out for axis manipulation. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 38
  39. 39. Starting from Zero Things begin at zero... so you can see change. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 39
  40. 40. Choosing a Zero Choosing what counts as zero can be just as important. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 40
  41. 41. Stretching the Truth Same data... But one appears more volatile. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 41
  42. 42. Math is hard.How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 42
  43. 43. Relative Sizes 1 + 1 equals: 2 4! How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 43
  44. 44. Giving Less than 100% 13 + 13 + 19 + 14 equals: 59 100%! How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 44
  45. 45. Everything Always Up. Adding things to each other... Always makes them larger. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 45
  46. 46. There are others ways to cheat. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 46
  47. 47. Breaking Norms How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 47
  48. 48. Hiding Expert Information How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 48
  49. 49. Conclusions Go Here. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 49
  50. 50. Your job is to direct attention. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 50
  51. 51. Good visualizations have a point. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 51
  52. 52. There's a fine line between storytelling and lying. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 52
  53. 53. My favorite example 3 versions of the same chart... totally different stories. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 53
  54. 54. How To Not Lie: 1). The visuals should match the numbers. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 54
  55. 55. How To Not Lie: 2). Labels should be honest and accurate. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 55
  56. 56. How To Not Lie: 3). Full context should be provided. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 56
  57. 57. How To Not Lie: 4). Expert information should be conveyed. How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 57
  58. 58. Thank you. Source: http://xkcd.com/688/ How to Lie with Data: David Newbury (@workergnome) 58

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