Wednesday, February 23, 2011


February 23, 2011

So, Ezra Klein, referenced this graphic in his blog yesterday.  It was derived by a couple business school professors.  This is a shocking disparity between actuality and perception (not to mention the ideal). 

It made me start wondering how much of the world we actual get wrong when we think we have it right.

Is my estimate of how many people enjoy my class this skewed?

How about my perception of how I looked in that new pair of pants I wore yesterday?

The possibilities to be wrong are endless.

It probably slops over into what most people think about how much money goes to pediatric cancer research, either by some esteemed agency like the American Cancer Society or at the federal level.  I'm not sure what you think about this, but here is the actual in 2008.

I had to blew up the graph to extra large, just so you could see the sliver of funding at ACS that actually goes to childhood cancer research.  Does that match what you thought or your ideal?

This graph of the NCI/Pediatric Cancer Funding doesn't even make sense unless you look real hard at it.  It seems like great strides are being made, but even at it's highest level in 2008, the yellow bar ($190) is less than 4% of the total expenditure ($4800) by the National Cancer Institute.

Where is the magic mirror that let's us see this reality and then demand that the reality change so that it matches our perception or maybe even our ideal? 


  1. yeah, that second graph, from the NCI, it's call f*ing with people's heads. i wonder what Tufte would say about that? hmm. it's great data vis, but it ain't accurate data visualization.

    see? while my papa died of prostate cancer, it's because of this that i've put my energies into pediatric cancer.

    oh, and because the amazing erin had good politics too. ;-D. if someone with her politics supported pediatric cancer research like she did, then it must be a good cause to support. :)

  2. ps. i'm TA-ing in a science and society class and I just sent the prof that NCI graph, your explanation and a link to this post.. i'm not sure if he talks about things being portrayed in inaccurate ways, but in case he does, while this is dollars it is related to science, this is a great example.

  3. Love your comparison of the graphs - and thanks for explaining that stupid NCI graph. I could not read that dump thing and now I know why. What are they trying to pull?

    KNOW where your money is going before you give it away!