John Tukey, Exploratory Data Analysis charts

Uncertainty. What a word. You know what that word means, which is the eerie feeling of not knowing. But not ignoring something irrevelant, but most probably that you ignore; is it maybe concretely something you should or must know in your current circumstance? or even better, something you probably coul know but you are not so sure.
Uncertainty could be a densily foggy day or a night of infinite darkness.

Statistics are a hard sell for the non-initiated, among who I count myself.


The numerical nature of the statistics, based in the world of maths (is that the correct term?) brings us to the question: are maths invented or are they discoveres? is a question that specialists ask themselves, but one they answer with an argument that puzzle me as an artist, non nuber type of person. Maths, are other way, incredibly accurate, to describe  and depict the  world. As is a watercolor, a  novel, a poem, a song. I guess.I will find the link where I got those ideas from for you and send it via Whatapp later. Sure.

However, thinking twice, and having been trained in visual graphics, I think I could appreciate, although a little, the effort made to compress meaning into these geometrical shapes. The same encoding taht make the charts and graphic so hermetic to the lay people like me, who just recently could appreciate the difference between logarithmic and linear scale in the confection of a graphic.

There is a method to the madness, somebody would say, and it is in the interpretation of this method wee the magic process of decodification and interpretation happens.
These are some screenshots form the charts John Tukey used in a serie of talks about the work devloped in his book Exploratory Data Analysis (1977).
Among other things he proposes an improved version of the boxplot (box and whiskers) for the visual analysis of the characteristics of a dataset (highest/lowest value, outliers, median, etc).
I liked the rough aspect of the pre-internet typography and photocopy of the pdf I found, it gives, for all the statistics glamour, acertain sense that, this, is the work of a person, who like everyone else, manage a certain degree of uncertainty in his life.
Because sometimes the greatest thing you can admire in most sciences is this prometeic effort to grapple with the world, many times obscures by intradisciplinary jargon and referencing.
But as much as these screenshots can show, a group of graphic drawn on paper, there is much more to the work of Tukey, like I discover when seeing his video demo showing the PRIM-9, which you can see here: http://stat-graphics.org/movies/prim9.html, a data processor of sorts that prefigurated the Tableau of our days. In the video  which I will link below, you can see how Tukey manage and mmanipulate a set of datapoints in the monochrome screen.
 And this was in the seventies!. And I also didn't know that Tukey and Ascombe were related trough the family of their wives! But that is another subject.

PS update: With the new situation arund the globe (early 2020), the relevance, nature and understandings of the statistics as a tool arrives on a daily basis to the general public, being as  preminent among the social media tweet as the scenes of emergency rooms across the world. Under the shadow of Jon Snow and Florence Nightingale, statisticians try to make sense of the reigning chaos. either in the rate of spreading, in the nuber of fatalities or the correlation between, growth, population and deaths. All in all, as somebody said, statistics are just one way more to deal with uncertainty, so prevalent among us in these days.

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