data, data journalism, data visualization, infographic, journalism

What I learned on misleading data and visualizations at Alberto Cairo’s #visualTrumpery event

Trumpery is not linked to a famous politician. It means something flashy or beautiful, but without content. This is how Doctor Alberto Cairo started his talk in Barcelona last Friday on data visualizations and the challenge of truthful information.

Below 5 takeaways from the event to data journalists on their attitude towards teaching the audience to properly interprete graphs and visualizations:

1. Society is not taught to read graphs

Journalists tend to simplify the information on graphs because of their lack of statistics knowledge, leading to a wrong interpretation by the audience.

Since people are illiterate when it comes to data reasoning and visualizations, it makes easier to offer a misleading graph. Often, people tend to believe what they want to believe and they don’t double check sources. Some examples:

2. Manipulating first ourselves in storytelling our thoughts, then others 

People tend to modify and adapt facts to their opinions in order to convince others. Even thought this is not new, persuasive methods such as data and visualizations make easier for Trumpery to survive:

3. Graphics lie when not including the right amount of data 

Not only graphics are misleading when showing data incorrectly, but also when omitting information deliberately or due to a lack of knowledge:

4. Being truthful matters more than being the winner

As journalists, ethics and trust cannot be set aside. Checking sources is important not only when creating content but also when sharing or curating this on social media:

Doctor Alberto Cairo finished the event with a call to arms to the war of Trumpery: teaching journalists on statistics in order to not mislead the audience, and teach the audience to interprete graphs by theirselves:

5. Get ready against lies

The best method to tackle the Self-Trumpery is learning about the topic. Below some books recommended by Alberto:

Doctor Alberto Cairo came to Barcelona to defence his tesis called Nerd Journalism. How Data and Digital Technology Transformed News Graphics.

During the event on Friday, #visualTrumpery was trending topic in Barcelona:

Do you have more examples? Let me know in the comments or at @mcrosab.


One thought on “What I learned on misleading data and visualizations at Alberto Cairo’s #visualTrumpery event

  1. Pingback: Визуальная мишура — Infographer

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