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Caveat Emptor

The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Getting your tables right

It's that time of year when MA/MSc student minds turn to dissertation writing. In my neck of the woods that frequently involves communicating some numerical information to the reader. As I explain annually, at length, to anyone that cares to ask me, this is all about putting the needs of the reader first and downsizing  one's own egotistical tendencies. 

Tables that look like pieces of modern art are obstacles to understanding and demonstrate nothing more  than  a complete lack of thought by the person who constructed them. It's all about craftsmanship really, and if you can't be bothered with craftsmanship, then personally I don't feel terribly motivated to pay much attention to whatever it is you have to say. Which is possibly a pity, because what you have to say might be important. It isn't rocket science, it's just about caring enough to take a little trouble. Think of it as reciprocity. If you go to the trouble to maximize the possibility that I understand what you are saying, I'll make an effort to do the understanding, and if you don't I won't.

Well now I don't need to go on at length, because someone at Darkhorse Analytics has gone to the trouble to illustrate it  much better than I could (hat tip to Eric Harrison for alerting me to this). Happy table making and I hope you never use a colour fill or a jungle of lines again. By the way, it's all in Tufte, but those books are expensive...

Friday, 9 June 2017

Politics. It's a funny old life.

It feels a bit odd to be so pleased about the outcome of the election. The party I support, but didn't vote for, didn't win, but did  much better than I expected with a leader that I also didn't vote for, while the candidate that I voted for, whose party I don't support, stormed to victory and regained his seat. Was electoral politics so much simpler in the past?

Perhaps I'm just glad I didn't make a public prediction before the event. If I had, I would have been completely wrong, again. On the other hand I would have been in the good company of the  majority of  professional political forecasters and pundits. Talk about a ship of fools.