Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gotta love PowerPoint

I'm preparing a talk on graphs and tables in medical journals and I happened on something by Edward Tufte:
"Applying the widely-used default designs for statistical graphics in PowerPoint [to a table of long-term survival rates of cancer patients] yields these analytical disasters below."

Tufte's assessment:
"Everything is wrong with these smarmy, nearly unreadable graphs: incoherent, uncomparative, low data-density, encoded legends, color without content, logotype branding, chartjunk, indifference to content and evidence. Chartjunk is a clear sign of statistical stupidity ... Poking a finger into the eye of thought, these graphics would turn into a particularly nasty prank if ever used for a serious purpose, such as cancer patients seeking to assess their survival chances. To deal with a product that clutters and corrupts data with such systematic intensity must require an enormous insulation from statistical reasoning by Microsoft PP executives and programmers, PP textbook writers, and presenters of such chartjunk."
Is that clear enough?

A friend was telling me about a philosophy course she was taking: "When I got to Kant, I couldn't."
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