"Junk Charts"--Helpful Do's And Don'ts of Data Visualization

Do your students struggle to read data visualizations, interpret them correctly, distinguish the good from the bad, or make their own?

On his blog, "Junk Charts," marketing analytics and data visualization expert Kaiser Fung uses published examples to discuss best data visualization practices ("what makes graphics work") and present standards (such as the "Trifecta Checkup") against which one can assess the quality of a given visualization.  Good visualizations should not only accurately reflect the data but also unveil underlying structures and reveal patterns of distribution, clusters, anomalies and correlations, in a format that is clear and easy to read and understand.

Fung also provides examples of poorly designed or (intentionally or unintentionally) misleading graphics to illustrate data visualization mistakes, such as this attempt from Reuters' Christine Chan to illustrate the effect of the enactment of the "Stand Your Ground" law on murders in Florida.  As Fung discusses in the post, the chart suffers from a number of problems (it conflates firearm murders with gun deaths, runs counter to convention by reversing the direction of the vertical axis, ...), which make it likely to be misinterpreted by the reader.

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Frederique Laubepin

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