Sunday, July 16, 2017

Data Fluency Follow-Up - Beware of Content Manipulation

Source: TED Ed
In light of our recent post, we thought it worth sharing one of the latest TED Ed videos released this summer. It is entitled “How To Stop A Misleading Graph,” by Lea Gaslowitz. We haven’t used this with our students yet, but we plan to this fall. Graphs can aid us in grasping complex data; that does not mean they always tell the correct story. With the so many visible software resources available today, it’s easy to design graphs, charts and tables for all types of media.


This video makes for a perfect mini-lesson to reinforce visual literacy, one of the core skills of graphicacy. Just because a graph looks good doesn’t mean it’s accurate. We want our students to look beyond the sleekness of design and not be swayed by colors, shapes, lines, and curves. Instead, they should question the labels, numbers, scale, and content. In other words, ask what the graph is trying to convey and not take it at face value.

Source: TED Ed
Graphs should represent data, not an opinion. By distorting the scale on either axis, they can be intentionally manipulated. The video provides straightforward examples of “cherry picking” the data points to skew the scale for the purposes of persuasion or bias. As we’ve stated in our previous post, our students are growing up in a data-rich world that increasing relies on the design of information. It’s for this reason that they need to be more discerning about misleading content. Visually literacy is a necessity now more than ever.

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