Fourteen ways to Say Nothing with Scientific Visualization

How to fool your audience? The sarcastic and humorous article “Fourteen ways to Say Nothing with Scientific Visualization” by Al Globus and Eric Raible (Computer, v.27 n.7, p.86-88, July 1994) gives guidance in the means and methods for “producing pretty pictures while avoiding unnecessary illumination of the data” – the ways in which one can confuse and mislead an audience by emphasising the looks of the graphics instead of the data (maybe ending up misrepresenting the numbers). Here are the fourteen steps to follow:

  1. Never include a color legend
  2. Avoid annotation
  3. Never mention error characteristics
  4. When in doubt, smooth
  5. Avoid providing performance data
  6. Cunningly use stop-frame video techniques
  7. Never learn anything about the data or scientific discipline
  8. Never compare your results with those of other visualization techniques
  9. Avoid visualization systems
  10. Never cite references for the data
  11. Claim generality but show results from a single data set
  12. Use viewing angle to hide blemishes
  13. If viewing angle fails, try specularity or shadows
  14. This is easily extended to 3D
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