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Do My Eyes Deceive Me? November 21, 2009

Posted by pupfiction in Uncategorized.
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You know that old rule that things happen in threes? Fact or fiction (or hindsight bias)? It seems to me that once the press notices interest in a certain topic or a certain occurrence they learn to focus on that particular issue, making us, the unsuspecting public, draw some weird inferences. David McCandless, the creator of InformationisBeautiful.net and author of Visual Miscellaneum, proves just that by this interesting chart comparing 2008’s drug poisoning deaths in the United Kingdom to popular press coverage. Take some time with this one.

What’s most interesting to me is the three drugs that gained over 100% of popular press coverage: ecstasy, cannabis, and aspirin. The reporting of aspirin deaths can probably be explained by the media’s well-known love of sensationalism, aspirin being as common and trusted as sliced bread in most households. But if ecstasy and cannabis, why not heroin and morphine? Why did the press inflate cannabis deaths by 484% when only 9% of  heroin and morphine deaths were reported (and only 2% of alcohol deaths??) ? This issue is compounded by the fact there were only 19 (“highly questionable”) deaths from cannabis and an astounding 897 deaths from heroin and morphine. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

Make sure to read the article on the graph here.



1. mikedoyle - November 23, 2009

It would not surprise me if many of the press reporters (and even their editors) could not interpret Mr. McCandless’ data and graphs.

2. Dataterrific: Time Travel in TV and Movies Visualized « The Infomavens' Desktop - February 19, 2010

[…] shown you some of McCandless’ work before, but it’s even more fascinating now, knowing how much work goes into the details of an […]

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