Headlines, meet sparklines: news in context
News reporting suffers from two major issues I'd like to tackle. The first is a bias towards negative, emotionally laden events. The second is the difficulty of capturing information about gradual changes.
These two deficiencies distort our perception. They make it easy for demagogues to claim that the world has gone to shit. The data tells a different story, as the late Hans Rosling was fond of reminding us. My hypothesis is that if base rates were provided in a compelling way alongside news stories (or even headlines), the public would be better informed. The challenges are many: first, getting and analyzing the data, but even more important, presenting it in a reasonable way.
In this post, let's explore what that would entail, from data collection, to analysis, to visualization. We'll go through a couple of examples.