Every day there are graphs. Many of them are bad.

Illustration by author

First things first: What is a Bad Graph?

Bad Graphs are often not mere, harmless mistakes. The fact that they are bad often goes unnoticed, and because of that, they are vehicles for misinformation. A Bad Graphs could be created by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, your local newspaper, or that data science influencer you follow on Twitter. People who work with data and people who consume data (therefore, most people) need to train their eye for detecting a Bad Graph when they see one. If we could all master this skill, the world of information would be a better place.

Example data and output

When my collegiate cross country team was suddenly spread out across the country due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we wanted a fun way to keep up with what everyone was up to week-to-week. Gathering responses from a Google Form was easy, but shaping those responses into an aesthetically pleasing newsletter required a lot of copy and pasting, highlighting, clicking, and repeating.

Ladia Albertson-Junkans finished the historic Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run clad in white shorts — and no tampon.

At her 9-to-5 day job, Ladia Albertson-Junkans is a programmer and analyst working with a research team on a mission to abate the opioid epidemic. When Ladia isn’t working to solve public health crises, she runs — a lot. During a peak training cycle, she’ll rack up between fifty to seventy miles of running per week.

A story of what we aren’t actively preventing and what we’re failing to strive for in artificial intelligence

Read the riddle below, and if you haven’t heard it before, try to solve it.

A father and his son are out driving and are involved in a terrible accident. The father is killed instantly, and the son is in critical condition. The son is rushed to the hospital and prepared for an operation that could save his life. The surgeon comes in, sees the patient, and exclaims, “I can’t operate, that boy is my son!” Who is the surgeon?

How did you do? Did you consider the possibility of surgeon being the boy’s mother? If you didn’t, you’re not…

Mandy Davis

Student at Northwestern University, avid runner, mountain lover

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