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View Diary: You see, it's like this... (70 comments)

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  •  About graphs . . . (5+ / 0-)

    . . . my personal opinion is that they can be used persuasively, at least for a certain type of reader.  If I find a simple and straightforward graph that illustrates my point, I throw it into the argument -- but only as an illustration, and always thereafter I make a point to actually explain what it is the graph illustrates.

    Like you, my experience has been that people reading articles just read and rely upon the explanation of the graph. But having the graph present in the post, I think, lends credibility to what you are trying to convey; the reader can look at the graph (if desired) and confirm that what you are saying is true.  In this way, it is sort of like linking to supporting material or to the underlying comment or column about which you may be writing.  One of the great things about well-done blogging is that the provision of links  means the reader can 'check your work.'

    So providing links, or graphs, and making it possible for the reader to 'check your work' can instill a greater confidence that what you've written is accurate and thus make that writing more persuasive.

    Politics is the never-ending story we tell ourselves about who we are as a people.

    by swellsman on Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 03:50:06 AM PDT

    •  graphs (0+ / 0-)

      Every time I've seen a President show a graph in an address, it's been detrimental to the message. Ford was mocked viciously after his "Whip Inflation Now" speech that featured some overly simplified chart. Carter did one showing some graph and was pilloried for being "weak" and "ineffectual". When Obama showed one, I cringed, and so did the pundits.

      Graphs just don't seem to go over well with the public at large. If you're writing here, that's one thing, but selling a message to the hoi polloi is something else. Graphs make the speaker look like an "egghead", and Americans are predominantly anti-intellectual, so graphs become the kiss of death in political speeches.

    •  To me it depends on the graph. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh

      IF the axes are properly labeled (increments and What It Is), and IF I have the slightest idea what those are (that's what the text is for), I actually really like charts and graphs.  They're more than verification, they're visualization, that helps the explanation make sense to me.

      This applies particular to subjects concerning math, science, or economics.  Maybe I'm more of a visual learner in those fields.

      (Until today, I'd never actually listened to any of "Rhiannon", though I'd heard of it.)

      •  agreed (0+ / 0-)

        All your "ifs" are contingent upon the viewer of the graph being as comfortable with a Cartesian grid as you and I probably were by our junior year of high school. Therein lies the problem. A lot of people I know personally can't read graphs, and they're not necessarily stupid people. Some didn't have that much math in high school, or don't remember most of what they were taught because they finished high school so long ago and they have not had to read a graph since then. I stand by what I said: Most people can't get much from a graph.

        I've tried drawing crude graphs on cocktail napkins in bars to illustrate a point and only engineers, scientists and people who work in numerically intensive fields like finance, where they look at a lot of graphs, ever respond positively showing me that they understand my contention. Most people say something like, "I don't understand that technical stuff!" That's the end of it.

        Rather throw up my hands and give up trying to communicate, I'm seeking alternative methods to get my point across. Did I do that today, here? I think I did well enough with the Arabic piece and with the senior guitarists. There were no graphs in those essays.

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