If there’s one thing I learned from three years of statistics in college, it’s this:
Statistics can be fashioned to say anything.
The TED talk below is by David McCandless in which he highlights the power of effective data visualization and data context. For me, one of the turning points in his presentation was when he displayed the following two charts comparing the military budgets of countries around the world:
In the first, it appears that the U.S. is spending the most on its military. However, he explains, that raw data does not account for the GDP of each country. The U.S. GDP is much larger than other countries. In other words, the U.S. has more money to spend (the massive deficit notwithstanding…) and therefore spends more on everything, including its military. When he factors in the GDP and represents military spending as a percentage, a new picture emerges. Myanman and other countries spend a far greater percentage of their country’s budget on their military force. Let me know in the comments what other insights or “a-ha” moments you had watching the video. How does this impact