Summary Statistics Tell You Little About the Big Picture

Mean, median, and mode. These are the first things you learn about in your introductory statistics course. It’s often all you hear about when you see data in the news. People form policies for populations, based on the generalized numbers.

However, these summary statistics can only tell you so much about a dataset, which means you can only learn a limited amount about what the data represents — the people, places, and things.

If you’re the one who consumes the data, you should wonder what the means and medians actually represent. If you’re the one who analyzes the data, spend time with the most granular that time and resources allow for. Something more interesting will almost always come out of it.

Chart Type Used


It looks like a bar chart, but it reads differently. The baseline is continuous instead of discrete categories, which allows one to see distributions.


Pizza Place Geography

Most of the major pizza chains are within a 5-mile …

Life expectancy changes

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

10 Best Data Visualization Projects of 2017

It was a rough year, which brought about a lot of good work. Here are my favorite data visualization projects of the year.

How to Spot Visualization Lies

Many charts don’t tell the truth. This is a simple guide to spotting them.