Beautiful Evidence

( 3 )

Overview

Science and art have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information. Beautiful Evidence is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence presentations. The book identifies excellent and effective methods for presenting information, suggests new designs, and provides tools for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations.

Here we will see many close readings of serious evidence ...

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Overview

Science and art have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information. Beautiful Evidence is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence presentations. The book identifies excellent and effective methods for presenting information, suggests new designs, and provides tools for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations.

Here we will see many close readings of serious evidence presentations—ranging through evolutionary trees and rocket science to economics, art history, and sculpture. Insistent application of the principles of analytical thinking helps both insiders and outsiders assess the credibility of evidence.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780961392178
  • Publisher: Graphics Press
  • Publication date: 6/28/2006
  • Pages: 213
  • Sales rank: 204,869
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 10.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Mapped Pictures: Images as Evidence and Explanation    12

Sparklines: Intense, Simple, Word-Sized Graphics    46

Links and Causal Arrows: Ambiguity in Action    64

Words, Numbers, Images—Together    82

The Fundamental Principles of Analytic Design    122

Corruption in Evidence Presentations: A Consumer's Guide to Effects Without Causes, Cherry Picking, Overreaching, Chartjunk, and the Rage to Conclude    140

The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts Within    156

Sculptural Pedestals: Meaning, Practice, Depedestalization    186

Landscape Sculptures    196

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Introduction

A colleague of Galileo, Federico Cesi, wrote that Galileo's 38 hand-drawn images of sunspots "delight both by the wonder of the spectacle and the accuracy of expression." That is beautiful evidence.

Evidence that bears on questions of any complexity typically involves multiple forms of discourse. Evidence is evidence, whether words, numbers, images, diagrams, still or moving. The intellectual tasks remain constant regardless of the mode of evidence: to understand and to reason about the materials at hand, and to appraise their quality, relevance, and integrity.

Science and art have in common intense seeing, the wide-eyed observing that generates empirical information. Beautiful Evidence is about how seeing turns into showing, how empirical observations turn into explanations and evidence presentations. The book identifies excellent and effective methods for presenting information, suggests new designs, and provides tools for assessing the credibility of evidence presentations.

Evidence presentations are seen here from both sides: how to produce them and how to consume them. As teachers know, a good way to learn something is to teach it. The partial symmetry of producers and consumers is a consequence of the theory of analytical design, which is based on the premise that the point of evidence displays is to assist the thinking of producer and consumer alike. Evidence presentations should be created in accord with the common analytical tasks at hand, which usually involve understanding causality, making multivariate comparisons, examining relevant evidence, and assessing the credibility of evidence and conclusions. Thus the practice of evidence display are derived from the universal principles of analytical thinking—and not from local customs, fashion, consumer convenience, marketing, or what the technologies of display happen to make available. The metaphor for evidence presentations is analytical thinking.

Making an evidence presentation is a moral act as well as an intellectual activity. To maintain standards of quality, relevance, and integrity for evidence, consumers of presentations should insist that presenters be held intellectually and ethically responsible for what they show and tell. Thus consuming a presentation is also an intellectual and a moral activity.

Here we will see many close readings of serious evidence presentations—ranging through evolutionary trees and rocket science to economics, art history, and sculpture. Insistent application of the principles of analytical thinking helps both insiders and outsiders assess the credibility of evidence.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2009

    Review History of Fundamentals

    Two chapters in the book clearly stand out as the best: the Cognitive style of PowerPoint and Sparklines. Do you find PowerPoint presentations dull and confusing? Do you find it difficult to make clear presentations in a rigidly bulleted form in low information density? In one stroke, the PowerPoint chapter offers scathing criticism of the majority of PowerPoint presentations I've seen. Despite its shortcomings, PowerPoint is a major design tool and is here to stay. This chapter gives you ideas on mitigating the risks of poor communication using PowerPoint.

    Sparklines are powerful small information graphics that read like words. In fact, last I checked, there is an excerpt of this chapter on Tufte's website. I've used Sparklines in design projects to great effect. If you've ever wanted to present massive amounts of numeric information in a small space, this chapter shows you a way.

    The rest of the book shows design examples that exemplify information design best practices. There are many books that do this. What distinguishes Beatiful Evidence is Tufte's use of historical examples that show best practices that emerged in the 20th, 19th, and even earlier centuries, rahter than glitz design examples of the past few years. Glitzy examples have their place in providing inspiration for content that looks and feels fresh. But Tufte's book shows the best practices that have withstood the test of time, and will be permanently valid, regardless of the design styles in vogue from time to time.

    This book is an excellent addition to my permanent library.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 17, 2010

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    Posted April 17, 2010

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