More insights from Tufte on how to be an intelligent consumer of data.
At the same time, you would do well to take Tufte’s observations with
at least a grain of salt.
The tools of rhetoric precede those of data analysis by more than a few
centuries and Tufte is a master of both. Tufte appears to see malice
and venality in settings where I see predictable organizational
pressures of time and cost. With the luxury of tenure, Tufte can find
the all too real flaws in analyses prepared in the face of these
Tufte’s guidelines and analyses are all worth contemplating. What would
be intriguing is to understand what tools he would substitute for those
(such as PowerPoint and Excel) he criticizes so harshly. Further, once
we’ve learned to recognize the analytical flaws he identifies, what do
we do next in order to learn to commit them less frequently?
Tufte’s new chapter, Corrupt Techniques in Evidence Presentations, from his forthcoming book Beautiful Evidence, is now online for a month.
“Here is the first of
several chapters on consuming presentations, on what alert members of
an audience or readers of a report should look for in assessing the
credibility of the presenter.”