“It’s only by measuring we can cross the river of myths”

Hans Rosling goes myth-busting using the power of Visual Analytics in this 3-minute video.

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As always, Hans presents a fascinating, compelling story – in this case from a single animated bubble chart. The simplicity of the visualisation, combined with the traditional Gapminder time-series animation, brings the story alive and demonstrates the fallacy he is exposing and debunking.

It’s interesting, however, to see his approach 2 minutes into the video; he takes a single bubble and splits it down into component parts. This illustrates the power of working with granular data sets, even when exploring top-line patterns; in this case, the difference between progress at the aggregated country level, which – when broken down by region – is an amalgam of a wide-range of regional patterns.

Too many people, and organisations, look for patterns only at the aggregate level; by country, or category, or channel. This is a fine starting point – particularly if you can visualise those patterns as effectively as Hans Rosling does – but their is a danger in creating and protecting further myths if you don’t explore the averages and look in detail at what can often be dramatic differences in more detailed behaviour.

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