A leading data visualisation expert explores the negative—and positive-influences that charts have on our perception of truth.
Social media has made charts, infographics and diagrams ubiquitous—and easier to share than ever. While such visualisations can better inform us, they can also deceive by displaying incomplete or inaccurate data, suggesting misleading patterns—or misinform by being poorly designed.
Many of us are ill equipped to interpret the visuals that politicians, journalists, advertisers and even employers present each day, enabling bad actors to easily manipulate visuals to promote their own agendas. Public conversations are increasingly driven by numbers and to make sense of them, we must be able to decode and use visual information. By examining contemporary examples ranging from election-result infographics to global GDP maps and box-office record charts, How Charts Lie teaches us how to do just that.
Alberto Cairo is a journalist and designer, and the Knight Chair in Visual Journalism at the School of Communication of the University of Miami. The author of several textbooks, he consults with companies and institutions like Google and the Congressional Budget Office on visualizations. He lives in Miami.