Serial views

Posted to Statistical Visualization  |  Tags: ,  |  Nathan Yau

Like many, I’ve been listening to Serial every week, but I always just listened through my podcast app. So I missed this little bit from Adnan Syed way back in the second episode. He sent the two graphs above to the host Sarah Koenig. The graphs show tea price changes over time for two stores and Syed asks Koenig which store she would get her tea from. She says the first one, which has a more steady price.

Look again, Adnan said. Right. Their prices are exactly the same. It’s just that the graph of C-Mart prices is zoomed way in — the y-axis is in much smaller cost increments — so it looks like dramatic fluctuations are happening. And he made the pencil lines much darker and more striking in the C-Mart graph, so it looks more…sinister or something.

This was Adnan’s point: See how easy it is to look at the same information, but, depending on how it’s presented, come to two different conclusions about what it means? The 7-11 graph is the “innocent” graph. The C-Mart graph is the “guilty” graph. But they contain the same information.

See also: the baseline.


Jobs Charted by State and Salary

Jobs and pay can vary a lot depending on where you live, based on 2013 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here’s an interactive to look.

This is an American Workday, By Occupation

I simulated a day for employed Americans to see when and where they work.

Think Like a Statistician – Without the Math

I call myself a statistician, because, well, I’m a statistics graduate student. However, the most important things I’ve learned are less formal, but have proven extremely useful when working/playing with data.

Life expectancy changes

The data goes back to 1960 and up to the most current estimates for 2009. Each line represents a country.