Using information graphics to calibrate bias

Posted to Design  |  Tags:  |  Nathan Yau

Our daily lives are full of bias. We make assumptions about how the world works, why complex systems do what they do, and how precise measurements really are. That leads to a skewed view and sometimes misinformed decisions. Lena Groeger for Propublica describes how information graphics might play a role in providing a more accurate picture, in the particular the ones that engage readers with data.

You may have noticed by now that in some of these graphics, what we realize is not just something about ourselves (wow, I’m terrible at the stock market) but something about others (wow, it’s pretty hard to live on minimum wage). In a way these “you do it” graphics are like digital empathy tools. When we’re forced to make a decision or do something we don’t normally have to do, we get a glimpse into what it might be like to be another person. I believe we can take the idea much farther.

This is one of my fascinations with data these days. “Overall” comes to mind a lot when I think of statistics. Overall trend. Overall pattern. Aggregation. That’s hard for the everyday person or casual reader to grasp onto sometimes. But, if they see where they’re positioned in some amalgamation of data, that’s a good baseline to riff off of.


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