Randall Bolten Blog

February 01, 2014
In a recent session of my U.C. Berkeley class, “Presenting Quantitative Data Effectively,” we started with a discussion of the adjectives that describe “good” communication. “Communication” could be spoken or written, and on a sheet of paper, a computer screen, a whiteboard, or through speakers.

January 06, 2014
Happy New Year! If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know that if there’s one thing I dislike as much as deliberately misleading quantation, it’s pie charts. So in honor of the New Year, I want to present the most unarguably accurate and readable pie chart I’ve ever seen, sent to me courtesy of my pal Hal Ettinger.

December 28, 2013
At this holiday time, what could be more festive than driving all over the place in your car? Of course, at today’s gas prices visiting far-flung friends & family can be expensive. A partial solution is to drive a few miles out of your way and buy cheaper gas.

December 22, 2013
A few days ago, I wrote a post about a fascinating quiz testing our knowledge of the world. Did you take the quiz? How did you do?

December 16, 2013
Does raising the minimum wage have any bad side effects? George Will, in his op-ed piece in yesterday’s Washington Post, gives about fifteen reasons why raising it is the wrong thing to do. There are valid policy reasons on both sides of the issue, but Will highlights some issues that have to be faced. The numbers, and the process generating those numbers, can’t be ignored.

December 12, 2013
I ran across a fascinating quiz today, which will test your knowledge of the world as it is today and where it’s headed. It’s been administered to about 9,000 people in Scandinavia, and about 1,000 in the U.S. The test itself is interesting, but even more interesting – and perhaps even shocking – is the test score results.

December 07, 2013
“Chartjunk” is a term coined by Edward Tufte to describe elements in graphs or approaches to graphing that detract from the meaning of the graph or even skew the depiction of the graph to the point where it will get misinterpreted. For the interested observer, the media efforts to present information on Obamacare and its rollout have created a veritable goldmine of chartjunk.

December 02, 2013
In clear, effective quantation, the words we put around the numbers are often as important for audience comprehension as the numbers themselves. In this morning’s Washington Post is an excellent op-ed piece, “What to call this economy?” by Robert Samuelson, where he observes that we lack the economic vocabulary to describe the current state of the U.S. economy.

November 30, 2013
One of the major causes of the healthcare.com fiasco of the last two months is the Obama administration’s decision to require site visitors to fully enroll in Obamacare before they could receive a price quotation for health insurance.

November 22, 2013
Sometimes, the numbers are not the numbers: they may be correct, and they may be understandable, but they don’t really address the question being asked. A good example of this dissonance is Obamacare and the frequent assertion that it is absolutely budget-neutral.

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