New video: Chart Appreciation, Iraq’s Bloody Toll by Simon Scarr

A Bar Chart That Hurts

How do you make people not just see numbers when looking at a chart, but feel something? This chart of the number of deaths during the Iraq war has always given me a visceral response like no other, and it’s still as powerful as when it was made almost ten years ago. So I made a chart appreciation video to explain what I think is so great about it.

I’ve written about this chart and other downward-pointing bar charts before, but I’ve put a lot of effort into explaining why this is such a great chart in this video. I also talk about recent (accepted but not yet technically published) research that shows that aligning the chart direction with the emotional valence (good or bad) of the chart topic actually helps people read them.

Part of the reason for making these videos has always been that I wanted to show things the way I saw them. This piece in particular is extremely vivid to me, and I hope that my little animations bring it to life for people who might not otherwise be as impressed as I am.

I’m embedding the entire video (about 7.5 minutes) here. I don’t think my strategy of embedding the teaser worked, too many people seem to have just watched the teaser but not the full video. If you want to comment, please do that over on YouTube, though!

Also, if you like the video please give it a thumbs-up over there. That really helps tell YouTube that people think this video is worthwhile.

As in my previous video, there are numbered references in the video with the corresponding links in the notes below it. If you want to see more chart appreciations, I now have four that you can conveniently watch in this playlist.