Thanks to some LinkedIn connections, I discovered the website, and the soon to be released book, Calling Bullshit.
It struck a nerve with me, mostly because I am one of those people who truly believes that you can convince people of just about anything if you throw enough statistics at them, without even needing to lie about any of them, but rather just tweak how you present the numbers.
For example, just take a look at this one article about graphs using misleading axes:
The purpose of a publication-stage data visualization is to tell a story. Subtle choices on the part of the author about how to represent a dataset graphically can have a substantial influence on the story that a visualization tells. Good visualization can bring out important aspects of data, but visualization can also be used to conceal or mislead
There are some great examples in there of charts that are misleading. Not that any of them are false, but just how the way they were drawn makes things appear more or less dramatic than they really are.
And that’s just one thing you can learn that will help you navigate social media and news as a more educated consumer. There’s a whole bunch more. Spend some time learning how to spot when you’re being manipulated.
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