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Watch 200 Years of Global Growth In 4 Minutes

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the statistics-are-fun dept.

Earth 270

kkleiner writes "A professor of international health in Sweden, Hans Rosling has a long history of exploring the facts and figures that surround our changing world. In the a segment of the BBC series, Rosling gives one of his most famous lectures with a new twist. Using 120,000+ bits of data and augmented reality, the exuberant professor takes us through the last 200 years of global history and its uneven growth of wealth and health." This is really worth watching. Seriously.

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I saw this (0)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549930)

I was shown this video as part of a marketing class. It greatly oversimplifies the changes we have seen, but damn is it a slick presentation.

Re:I saw this (1)

madprof (4723) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550504)

I have to say I was surprised at first that he was using the same studio where they film Dragons Den. I half expected someone to tell him they weren't interested in his presentation and "I'm out". :)

But yes a very slick presentation.

Re:I saw this (2)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550682)

Yeah, it bugged me that they'd use "life expectancy" which usually is a tainted statistic when infant mortality is not excluded. However, the point was really the data presentation, and that was a good example of how it is possible to convey a lot more "big picture" information with current tools.

Those interested in such stuff should check out informationisbeautiful.net if they have not already run across it.

And... (4, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549948)

...our growth is almost entirely based on the use of oil for transportation, new materials, pesticides, fertilizers, construction equipment, etc, etc, etc. It's going to be messy when it starts to run dry.

Re:And... (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550044)

Sounds like you're dreaming and indeed actively hoping for such an outcome. But maybe it's me, reading something into a comment that's just not there. For all I know, you want global prosperity to continue.

Re:And... (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550106)

I see nothing in his comment to suggest this.

Re:And... (1, Offtopic)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550206)

When Bush was president and all of his little [foxnews.com] helpers [cnbc.com] kept telling everyone that there was nothing wrong with the market, how did denying reality end up helping anyone? I mean, besides postponing the inevitable to hang the albatross on the next administration.

Re:And... (2)

blue trane (110704) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551338)

In the guy's presentation he explicitly mentions that the Depression didn't affect the US's progress. Govt can and should spend in times when biz is sitting on their wealth. The dire predictions of the doom and gloom pop economists in the 1930s about their grandchildren's future did not come true...

Counter Perspective (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550248)

...our growth is almost entirely based on the use of oil for transportation, new materials, pesticides, fertilizers, construction equipment, etc, etc, etc. It's going to be messy when it starts to run dry.

Huh, well, from my point of view, the growth is based more so on just pure unadulterated knowledge. Knowledge of how to make all the above work for us despite its evils. As we increase knowledge this only gets better. As time progresses, we get better at exchanging and persisting knowledge (we're doing it right now on glowing squares in front of us but we could be across the world). It will only get messy if we stop promoting science, medicine, learning, education, research, understanding, translation, tolerance, etc.

Just another optimistic spin to put back on the already staggering performance we've exhibited relatively recently.

Re:Counter Perspective (4, Insightful)

Chonnawonga (1025364) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550332)

You both have a point, but sharing and using knowledge takes energy. Without the cheap energy of oil (or an alternative which has yet to take over) all that knowledge won't go very far or even last very long.

Re:Counter Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550338)

Yes, but knowledge doesn't propel a 747 across the Atlantic in 6 hours. You can know how a turbine works all you want, when there's no more oil, it's back to horses. Surely you're smart enough to grasp that?

Re:Counter Perspective (4, Insightful)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550822)

when there's no more oil, it's back to horses.

I haven't heard of this, how does it work? Do they make some kind of liquefied paste out of the horses? Do some breeds contain more energy than others? So many questions.

Re:Counter Perspective (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34551392)

The way it works is that slowly the things you took for granted in the early 21st become more and more expensive as oil rises in price. Trans-Atlantic travel will go back to ships burning coal or sailships. Cars will be slower and have shorter range.

And liquefying horses into energy paste only makes sense if you get more energy out of them than you put in in the form of oil-derived food. (It doesn't)

We'll have all this knowledge, all these machines and nothing to put in them.

Horses are self-repairing, self-reproducing creatures that eat grass and can provide all kinds of services from transport to labor to fertilizer and food.

The human race will continue and adapt and soon will forget the oil-powered distraction it enjoyed for a few generations. So what? The vast majority of people in history lived with no electricity, oil or even steam engines. And yet they wrought art, science and mathematics and music.

Your kid's kids will learn about you and your myopic delusional irrational beliefs and shake their heads the same way you shake your head at hippies.

Re:Counter Perspective (0)

jrade (1522777) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550630)

...if we stop promoting science, medicine, learning, education...

I agree with that entire list except medicine. For the most part, medicine doesn't cure anything, it just keeps us alive while mitigating the worse symptoms of our diseases.

Re:And... (4, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550284)

I was also struck by how basically every country left in the "sick and poor" category is in Africa. A sixth of the world's population lives on the African continent, and it has, aside from being exploited virtually continuously by wealthier nations, been largely left behind.

Good news, Bad news (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551022)

There are two very clear trends visible from watching this at work with the sound off:
1) Life expectancy and wealth have gone up dramatically.
2) Life expectancy and wealth have gone up a lot less dramatically for some than for others.

Re:And... (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551096)

On the other hand, Asia has been no less exploited and has managed to start catching up with the West despite of that.

Re:And... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34551104)

Oddly enough, that's the condition of niggers all over the world, in every time and every place. Maybe there's something besides "being exploited by the evil rich white man" to explain this?

Re:And... (3, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551244)

Africa needs to stop acting like children.

For the most part in America and Europe, race isn't as big of a factor. I'm not saying that racism is gone. But unlike ages ago there isn't "Irish" vs "Italian", they're all 'white'. In Africa entire cultures are brutally raped, mangled and murdered because of a small genetic variation of nose or ear size. The world maybe learned something from Hitler.

You have health care information such as "Rape a virgin and cure your HIV." Warlords and Presidents accumulating wealth that makes our overpaid CEOs look like chump change.

Then you have warlords taking over working farms from "white" farmers. Kicking them out of the country, scrapping all of the irrigation for a cheap buck and wondering why people are now starving.

Re:And... (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550288)

Yes, there will be disruptions and "hiccups" regarding supply/demand of energy. But by and large, market forces usually takes care of these issues. But at least here in the US, our government needs to seriously review our nuclear policy and transmission line infrastructure. Nobody said dropping the crack habit (oil) was easy. Withdrawal is to be expected during a transition period.

Re:And... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550410)

...our growth is almost entirely based on the use of oil for transportation, new materials, pesticides, fertilizers, construction equipment, etc, etc, etc. It's going to be messy when it starts to run dry.

For the first half of that period it would have been coal rather than oil.

Re:And... (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550602)

Oil is becoming a smaller part of our energy use. Perhaps it is already starting to run out. Nice little article on Chine running out of coal here: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/14/does-china-face-a-peak-coal-threat/ [nytimes.com]

Biggest difference: (3, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550732)

China is building the largest sustainable energy projects in the world with the fossil fuel energy they have left.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/may/26/china-invests-solar-power-renewable-energy-environment [guardian.co.uk]

Re:Biggest difference: (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551132)

They have no choice. Besides, it's nice to have prior examples to draw upon. Actually, standing on the shoulders of giants is how civilizations are created and maintained. Expect other Asian and Middle Eastern nations to fallow suit.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550846)

It's going to be messy when it starts to run dry.

Same old Malthusian b.s.

Re:And... (2)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550858)

No it's not. There is for all piratical purposes unlimited amounts of oil in the planet. We're getting to the lower ores, the tars and sluge, basically. Once we're below that, we've got air and water. That's why many, many people are looking to that unlimited oil resource (sky and water and sun), so that won't happen. There has never been a non-localized shortage on earth in history.

Here's some of the best links in this regard:
1. The synthesis of gasoline and diesel with nuclear energy (PDF) [aaenvironment.com] .
2. The Sandia CR-5 thermochemical engine (PDF) [sandia.gov] .
3. Windfuels [dotyenergy.com] .

Oil will never run dry, ever. Right now, we throw out waste biomass equivalent to 20% of our oil consumption, and about 50% of our oil consumption. Cut oil use by 50% (even lead-acid plug-in hybrids can achieve this), and we don't need any of the above technologies. We just need the same stuff the South Africans currently use to turn coal into diesel.

Oh, and I should mention that natural gas, not oil, (really hydrogen) is the primary component of the "oil-based" fertilizers. A lot more of that than oil. In fact, ammonia was originally produced by using hydrogen form water and electricity from hydroelectric powerplants.

Re:And... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551012)

There is for all piratical purposes unlimited amounts of oil in the planet.

May be. But what do all the non-pirates do? :-)

Re:And... (1)

Black Gold Alchemist (1747136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551166)

Steal oil from the pirates?

Debbie Downer called (2)

SashaMan (263632) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551264)

She wants her theme sound back.

Waaah wuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuh.

The lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Poor (1)

rjamestaylor (117847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549982)

Is the lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Poor quadrant North Korea by chance?

Re:The lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Po (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550238)

Is the lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Poor quadrant North Korea by chance?

Actually no [wikipedia.org] , it isn't [tripod.com]

Given that North Korea has an average life expectancy of 63.8 and a per-capita income of $1,700, that would put it solidly above the 50 year line. The North Korea dot is most likely the one slightly above and to the left of India.

Re:The lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Po (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550442)

Astute analysis. Just want to add that the numbers for North Korea are estimates. The life expectancy of nearly 64 sounds a bit dubious to me, given their perpetual food crises, but I suppose they're getting enough aid to bring it up to India-style poverty.

Re:The lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Po (2)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550524)

While that may be true, do you think this graph was made off of a census specifically sanctioned within the borders of North Korea by Hans Rosling himself, or do you think he's going by existing census and income information?!

I'm not saying the data is correct, I'm saying that dot in the lower left quadrant of the graph is Afghanistan and not North Korea.

Re:The lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Po (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550688)

You're almost certainly correct about that; I should have been clearer. Rosling wasn't gathering the data, just presenting it.

I was just surprised to hear North Korea's life expectancy estimated so high.

Re:The lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Po (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551380)

You're almost certainly correct about that; I should have been clearer. Rosling wasn't gathering the data, just presenting it.

I was just surprised to hear North Korea's life expectancy estimated so high.

Ahh - cheers mate, I was also quite surprised.

Thought that was the argumentative standpoint, but after a re-read and the above comment it's clearly not.

I actually wouldn't be terribly surprised if both the income and life expectancy are off. Most countries have an average income that's 2/3rds of their per-capita GDP (which can more accurately be measured by exports) considering South Korea's Per-capita GDP is $1,900, the actual average income is more likely to be closer to $1,250 (not that it is guaranteed to be)

So yes, there are very likely some serious discrepancies with countries like South Korea that view the rest of the world as enemies.

Re:The lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Po (3, Informative)

Robotbeat (461248) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550254)

Is the lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Poor quadrant North Korea by chance?

Nope, it's Afghanistan. (I know because I replicated this graph using their website gapminder.org)... Just so you know, GapMinder World will color Afghanistan turquoise, not red.

Re:The lone red dot remaining in the Sick & Po (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550280)

or, perhaps, "Works for Rackspace"

I saw a more indepth version of this some time ago (1)

drunkennewfiemidget (712572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34549992)

But I'll be damned if I can remember where. This guy went through all sorts of really cool data, not just the world's health vs income.

Re:I saw a more indepth version of this some time (5, Informative)

MintOreo (1849326) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550060)

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_reveals_new_insights_on_poverty.html [ted.com] Here, I'm guessing. It's a worthwhile watch.

Re:I saw a more indepth version of this some time (2)

rwa2 (4391) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550722)

Yep, that presentation is by far one of my all-time favourites on TED. Also neatly explain why my sister-in-law -- who studies microeconomics for developing countries -- did field work in Uganda and Sierra Leone.

Re:I saw a more indepth version of this some time (2)

Snowblindeye (1085701) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551310)

http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_reveals_new_insights_on_poverty.html [ted.com] Here, I'm guessing. It's a worthwhile watch.

That's the newer TED tallk. There is also an older one from 2006: http://www.ted.com/talks/hans_rosling_shows_the_best_stats_you_ve_ever_seen.html [ted.com]

Re:I saw a more indepth version of this some time (1)

msparker (449164) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550064)

Probably at TED (www.ted.com).

Optimism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550008)

Good information and visualizations; too Optimistic.

Re:Optimism (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550048)

Optimism is good. Keeping the other foot grounded to reality is even better.

Rule 34 .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550012)

"I kid you not, statistics are now the sexiest subject on the planet"

---Hans Rosling, 2010

Cool dude! Whatever gets you off!

Re:Rule 34 .... (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550358)

Always (+/- 5%).
Man, look at that kurtosis.Oh, and look at those binomials!

Re:Rule 34 .... (1)

Z8 (1602647) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551192)

The strange thing is that what Rosling is doing isn't really statistics at all. He is presenting a lot of data in a vivid and striking manner, but he hardly even uses any statistical techniques (in the sense of testing different models, assessing the significance of his data, etc.).

Video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550028)

Very slick.

It would be nice if Excel or OO Spreadsheet could generate animated videos like that from chart data.

shows economics and politics over time (4, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550110)

He slows the presentation to show World War 1 and the Spanish Flu epidemic but he didn't mention the Cultural Revolution in China during the 60's when the large circle representing China takes a HUGE dive. Some analysis relating political/economic systems to this graph is needed. When Smith wrote An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Wealth of Nations, it was because the UK was the outlier in the top right of this graph. Now that a lot of countries are in that quadrant, it is worth noting the outliers are now the few remaining in the lower left. These are the countries whose political systems most interfere with market forces and prevent their citizens from being productive.

Re:shows economics and politics over time (2)

sideslash (1865434) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550378)

I noticed that, too. Makes you sick to see the biggest circle drop like that. What a tragic waste, not to mention crime against humanity.

Re:shows economics and politics over time (3, Interesting)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550694)

Compared to Mao, Hitler and Stalin and Caesar and Po Pot were rank amateurs.

Re:shows economics and politics over time (1)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550470)

Potentially time limited by his presentation, as no doubt he could have gone into lots of further details all over the place. Non the less, interesting to watch. I figure WW1 was a chosen point because it holds more direct meaning to the audience (as a BBC program, that'll be the brits) than chinese internal changes but I'd be interested to know if there was a whole program written around this, beyond the small clip. I'd hope so.

mod d0wn (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550118)

do, 4ndd with any

ouuu I'm shaking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550128)

120,000 *+* bits!!!
that's like 120kilobits of data, or one book in the library of congress!

Notice how there is little relevance (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550186)

in between the life expectancy and wealth. some countries have achieved similar life expectancy with the rich west, despite being on the left hand side of the graph.

Re:Notice how there is little relevance (4, Insightful)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550360)

They don't have to invent their own medicine from scratch. The technology, once created, is easy to export. If one country finds a breakthrough in the field of medicine, agriculture, or communications, the world at large is enriched by it.

Re:Notice how there is little relevance (1)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550450)

What are you talking about?

While the world's life expectancy has obviously increased, there is a very clear best-fit line that can be drawn at any time with quite obviously a very strong statistical significance.

Re:Notice how there is little relevance (2)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550452)

in between the life expectancy and wealth. some countries have achieved similar life expectancy with the rich west, despite being on the left hand side of the graph.

Which graph were you looking at? There is a very strong correlation since the Industrial revolution, that's why the dots all tend to line up along a curve following the diagonal. If there was no correlation, then the dots would be distributed in one or more purely horizontal bands. They are not. They are, instead, lined up along a very nice curve.

The correlation was lower before the Industrial Revolution, and has lessened in recent years as health care in general, including nutrition and reduction of infant and maternal mortality in specific, have been globally improved. Saying that there is little relevance between wealth and life expentency is seeing what you want to see in the data, rather than paying attention to the facts.

But holychrist, Congo is now back in the stone age thanks to the relentless wars there. The video also provides a marvelous indication of how profound the 1812 influenza epidemic was.

Amazing. (5, Insightful)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550210)

People always complain about how great the good old days were. I guess this is a pretty solid evidence that they sucked.

Re:Amazing. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34551212)

Well, if you're only going to look at quality of life, sure. And that is so typically for you youngsters today, you forget all the great stuff. All the funerals for example. Lots of free drink and a lovely young widow. Don't see much of that these days

Re:Amazing. (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551266)

Hans Rosling is great at that. His amazing visualizations (he's done variations of this talk at a number of TED conferences and for the State department and so on) really do put things in perspective that in fact things have gotten MUCH better over all, they continue to get better, and with effort and creativity (as is always required) we can look forward to an even better future.

People like him and Saul Griffith and David Desutch are people I think that really need more media attention, that people need to listen to. People who actually analyze the data, who do extremely complex and in-depth analysis, and who can then help show that no, we aren't all fucked, life isn't horrible and we aren't all going to die just because there are problems. There are challenges yes, but things are getting better, and we can overcome those challenges and make things better still. For that matter, those challenges are also opportunities for new jobs and so on.

Hopefully the BBC's new version of his presentation will help more people become aware of it and understand: Thing were not better in the past, they are better now. We need to look towards a better and brighter future, not back to some imaginary perfect past.

Re:Amazing. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551312)

People always complain about how great the good old days were. I guess this is a pretty solid evidence that they sucked.

Only on average. In reality, they either really sucked, or were pretty good. To look at this another way, the maximum life expectancy hasn't really changed in thousands of years. Prior to last century, the average was brought down due to the high volume of infant and child deaths. Similarly, the spread of wealth hs actually more interesting than the average -- especially after adjusting for inflation.

Family size (2)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550230)

I'd be interested in similar graphs charting family size vs. wealth, and family size vs. education. The wealth-gap is, in my opinion, a direct result of larger families (less money available for education and health care per child) vs. small families (the inverse). The question then becomes "why large families in the face of poverty" (cultural factors, education of women or lack thereof, children seen as support for people when they are old, child survival rate greater now than in the past but family behavior lagging behind)... and what can be done about it.

Re:Family size (4, Informative)

Beorytis (1014777) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550972)

To a certain extent, you can create your own graphs with Hans Rosling's software from http://www.gapminder.org/ [gapminder.org]

Vaccine's role? (2)

SeattleGameboy (641456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550240)

It is amazing to see how much improvement you see in life expectancy around the world in mid 1900's. I believe that is due to wider availability of vaccines. Just goes to show how big of a difference vaccines have made around the world.

Re:Vaccine's role? (3, Insightful)

onepoint (301486) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550456)

the improvements to medical services to the general public shows right across the board from the turn of the 20th century, we can watch the rise of life expectancy. I bet the delta on that is huge in comparison to income

Re:Vaccine's role? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550724)

That's also when antibiotics became common, which also had a huge impact.

TED Talks (2)

swell (195815) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550270)

He presented a very similar presentation in his podcast for TEDtalks.
www.TED.com

So he only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550302)

So he only used 14.7 KB of information?

What horrible graphics (2, Interesting)

Mab_Mass (903149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550316)

I applaud what he is trying to do. Seriously. At the same time, this guy needs to read a bit more about data presentation.

First of all, the background setting for this talk is a terrible choice. The windows make it difficult to see the individual plots, and what's up with the large ball of lights off to the right? Ugh.

His y-axis is also distorting the truth. With the y-axis beginning at 25 and going to 75, he is conveying a huge lie factor [infovis-wiki.net] in the progress.

He needs to read Tufte [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What horrible graphics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550652)

No.

1) This is a show. Watch the ted talk if you want proper backgrounds and so on. Television needs to be entertaining if you want people to listen to you until the end.

2) His Y-axis is not distorting the truth one bit. With zero health-care, people tend to live into their late teens. That's your comparison point. Low and behold, the bottom of the graph corresponds to.... late teens! It's debatable whether there's an upper limit or not.

You need to think.

Re:What horrible graphics (2, Informative)

Mab_Mass (903149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550950)

1) This is a show. Watch the ted talk if you want proper backgrounds and so on. Television needs to be entertaining if you want people to listen to you until the end.

But I fail to see that accurate data presentation is in conflict with entertainment.

2) His Y-axis is not distorting the truth one bit. With zero health-care, people tend to live into their late teens. That's your comparison point. Low and behold, the bottom of the graph corresponds to.... late teens! It's debatable whether there's an upper limit or not.

Did you read the link on lie factors?

You need to think.

Although you may disagree with me, please be polite about it. (Insert tongue-in-cheek pejorative here)

Re:What horrible graphics (1)

Concerned Onlooker (473481) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550660)

I'd be willing to bet that he knows plenty about graphics presentation. It is just a (successful) attempt to make it visually interesting to non-stats geeks. I certainly enjoyed it.

Re:What horrible graphics (2)

Mab_Mass (903149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550876)

I'd be willing to bet that he knows plenty about graphics presentation. It is just a (successful) attempt to make it visually interesting to non-stats geeks. I certainly enjoyed it.

It was certainly enjoyable, but I actually doubt that he knows plenty about presentation. In my experience (as a scientist), many, many more people understand statistics and data analysis than understand the power of presentation.

Statistics is an analytical skill. Data presentation is much more of a design/aesthetic skill, which is woefully undervalued. (in my opinion)

Re:What horrible graphics (1)

Z8 (1602647) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551124)

In my experience (as a scientist), many, many more people understand statistics and data analysis than understand the power of presentation.

In my experience in industry it's the opposite. People spend a lot of time on the formatting and presentation, but any actual statistics used is elementary. And of course our salesman basically don't know anything about statistics.

Re:What horrible graphics (2)

Mab_Mass (903149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551208)

In my experience in industry it's the opposite. People spend a lot of time on the formatting and presentation, but any actual statistics used is elementary. And of course our salesman basically don't know anything about statistics.

Don't get me wrong. I think a lot of people spend a lot of time on formatting and presentation, but they do a horrible job. I've seen people take a perfectly readable, clearly presented graphic, then spend 5 minutes adding shadows, 3D effects, etc. The result looks all shiny and pretty, but as a way of presenting data, it is a failure.

Good data presentation should be appealing to the eye AND easy to read. In my experience these kinds of presentations are very few and far between.

Why is Slashdot behind... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550330)

I saw this on Fark a couple weeks ago. Why is Slashdot 14 days behind... Seriously.

Does nothing to illustrate income inequality (1)

pkbarbiedoll (851110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550432)

I saw this a couple weeks ago, and while the evidence appears to damn the west for hoarding wealth, the presentation does not measure income distribution across individual countries. While America may appear to have lots of cash, the growing reality is that the "lots of cash" belongs to a scant percentage of the population.

It would be interesting to see a similar presentation that takes this important marker into account.

Re:Does nothing to illustrate income inequality (1)

WrongMonkey (1027334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550974)

The wealth scale is logarithmic. Even "poor" Americans ($20,000) would be very near the top.

Re:Does nothing to illustrate income inequality (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551298)

Perhaps so, but people living in "poverty" in America (as defined by the government anyway) are still better off, on average, than most of the rest of the world.

Sigh... graphs.... (4, Insightful)

jwiegley (520444) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550446)

How about we look at this again but eliminate several typical graphing mistakes....

First, let's have all axes start at zero, not at, say, 33% of the range. This would immediately show that there is less disparity between average lifetime then the presenter attempts to make you perceive.

second let's have a non-logarithm axes for a typical unit that is thought of as linear... money.

Third, if we are going to compare wealth then we should be comparing amount of money held vs what it can buy, not just raw money per person. Sure people in the Congo have far less dollars per person than Japan. But a loaf of bread and the supplies they want to buy are far, far cheaper. In other words, it is possible for a smaller amount of currency from economy A to buy more goods and services in economy B. You need to account for this in determining "wealth". You can't just exchange currency rates to determine who is better off.

Lastly, You also have to dollar adjust for inflation even for specific countries over time. A typical mid-range american car in 2010 costs around US$25000; in 1977... US$5000. So, yes we might have more dollars per person in the US today but you're going to need 5 times as many dollars as you had 33 years ago in order to just break even.

And, while we are at it. I would get rid of the enthusiastic and "compelling" presentation acting. This is always a sign of attempting to market more than is really there. It is science through how the presenter can make you "feel" and it leads to poor knee-jerk decisions.

Re:Sigh... graphs.... (5, Interesting)

Galvatron (115029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550954)

Why would you start the axes at zero? First off, as you note, the income axis is logarithmic, and so cannot go to zero anyway. As for life expectancy, zero would be a meaningless label. It's impossible for a country to have a life expectancy of zero. It is entirely appropriate to set the minimum value for an axis at the minimum value which has ever been recorded. The difference between a life expectancy of 40 and 75 is enormous, and I do not find the presentation to be in any way misleading.

Your second issue, the logarithmic axis for money, is debatable either way. Given that incomes have generally risen exponentially (in the US, an increase of about 2% per year for the last 200 years), a linear scale would show accelerating income growth for wealthier countries. It strikes me that this would be more misleading than use of a logarithmic axis. If you usually think of income growth as linear, maybe it's your thinking, rather than his graph, which is mistaken.

For the third issue, there is something called "Purchase Power Parity" which corrects for the effect you're talking about. The presentation doesn't discuss whether his income figures are adjusted for PPP or not. Contrary to your assumption, the figures clearly are at least adjusted for inflation (given that his $400 minimum would have been a princely sum in 1810, far above any country's per capita average), and if he's adjusted for inflation, I see no reason not to believe that he's adjusted for PPP as well. If he hasn't adjusted for PPP, then I agree that's something that should have been done, but it in no way alters his fundamental point. PPP reduces income inequality, but in no way eliminates it.

For the fourth issue, without his enthusiastic presentation, it's just a graph. There's a time and a place for cold, sober, "just the facts" presentations, and that is textbooks. In less academic settings, it's entirely appropriate to use enthusiastic explanations to show people why something matters.

Re:Sigh... graphs.... (2)

adonoman (624929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551288)

First, let's have all axes start at zero

Why? The point of the graph is not to show absolute disparity, but to show the correlation between two things. Focusing on the relevant sections makes it easier to see that relation.

second let's have a non-logarithm axes for a typical unit that is thought of as linear... money.

Money is by no means linear. If I was making $1000 / year, and got a $1000 / year raise, then that's a very significant event for me. At $100,000 / year, making an extra $1000 is just a little something extra. In raises, taxes, and pretty much anything related to income, people talk in percentages - and when things change by percentages, not absolute amounts, you are dealing with exponential curves. So a logarithmic scale is extremely appropriate in this situation.

if we are going to compare wealth then we should be comparing amount of money held vs what it can buy

I'll give you that one - I don't know for sure that he didn't include cost-of-living in his calculations and just didn't mention it for simplicities sake, but he probably should of made a passing mention of it and included it in his data.

You also have to dollar adjust for inflation even for specific countries over time.

The data would definitely suggest that he's done that. Given that by the 1900's, he has countries moving into the $4000 average income range, which would be roughly equivalent to an absurd $400,000 average income today if he hadn't adjusted for inflation already. I'm far more willing to believe that our standard of living has gone up by a factor of 10, rather than down by a factor of 10 in the last 100 years.

Worth watching (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550514)

This is really worth watching. Seriously.

Yeah, we all saw it weeks ago when it was number one on Google Reader and every blog on Earth featured it. Quick work there, Taco.

Re:Worth watching (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550996)

Slashdot. News for middle-aged people. Stuff that mattered.

Terminal Terminology (3, Interesting)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550644)

Great video and argument for the need for well-made methods for present data, but there are a couple of issues I think need to be addressed with this video:

-One is that I'm seeing quite a few misinterpretations on life expectancy in various comments, and though not expressly stated, even in the implications suggested by the professor himself.
It is important to keep in mind that life expectancy is almost always calculated as the full blown all-inclusive average of "age-when-people-died". While this may seem like a very standard indicator for the overall health of a nation, it is actually highly influenced by natal and infant mortality rates.

Of-course, that's not to say that being able to keep a baby alive shouldn't be a measure of a nation's overall healthiness, however the misinterpretation comes in when there are comments relating this life-expectancy to vaccines and whatnot. It is a common urge (one that seems implicitly shared by the professor in the video) to associate mankind's technological achievements with a longer fuller life, but to discount all of the carcinogens, obesity, diabetes, and other newfound sources of death that have come hand-in-hand with technology is a very hasty move.
And for those that counter-argue about the elimination of disease, yes, do note the huge dips in life-expectancy in the plot as time progresses; but also observe that these dips, representing epidemics, only last for 2-5 years, and the population rebounds. My point is regarding the baseline equilibrium "life expectancy".

As far as I know, studies have shown that it doesn't matter whether you were born as a healthy baby back then versus now, as a person's life expectancy when controlled for infant mortality, has remained basically steady, with improvements in healthcare cancelling out all the crap we try to kill ourselves with. It's just that we manage to keep more babies alive til they get cancer.

-Secondly, I wanted to comment on the professor's utopian endgame of every country landing in the happy zone that is wealthy and healthy. It was common knowledge among the political big boys towards the end of Chinese communism (the economic form, not the social one. You can argue whatever you want if you feel like being ignorant, but a person driving an important Porsche Cayenne next to someone pulling a rickshaw isn't quite the equality communism originally set out for) that if China had the same proportion of its population become middle class as America, there wouldn't be enough natural resources (steel, fuel, etc.) on the entire planet to give every family an automobile.
My point there is that overall wealth, while better for a country and its individuals, is definitely not better for the planet. And given it's subjective nature, it doesn't necessarily mean everyone would actually be "wealthy". If a rich nation could buy something now that a poor one cannot afford, but in the future both countries could afford it, it would just make that item in question cost more due to increased demand. Effectively, every country being "wealthy" is exactly the same as every country being "poor". We could just make America and most of Europe as poor as a developing nation, and technically every country would be "wealthy". The quality of life wouldn't necessarily improve in that case.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_expectancy#Interpretation_of_life_expectancy [wikipedia.org]

Great Leap Downward (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550730)

Man, anyone else notice China drop like a rock circa 1960 and say, "Holy hell!"?

Re:Great Leap Downward (2)

TheSync (5291) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551234)

Man, anyone else notice China drop like a rock circa 1960 and say, "Holy hell!"?

For a country that killed 20 to 40 million of its people through starvation (due to farm collectivization combined with insane internal politics) within living memory of many people still alive there, we should consider it a complete miracle that China has been able to morph into a 10%+ per year GDP growth country.

Re:Great Leap Downward (1)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551316)

That wasn't the only one, just the biggest. One small red dot went significantly below the "25 years" line at one point. I need to watch it again because I don't recall what year it was, but I wonder if it was Cambodia in the mid 70s.

Didn't take into account what $400 equivalent is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550748)

$1 is $0.03 dollars today... So it doesn't look nearly as good as they portray.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090116141836AAVCf2I

Re:Didn't take into account what $400 equivalent i (1)

adonoman (624929) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551332)

He's obviously adjusted for inflation - there was actually deflation in the early 1800s, and $1.00 in 1880 would buy roughly what $100 would buy today. By that time on his chart though, he has countries entering an average income of around $4000. I'm pretty sure that those countries didn't have average incomes equivalent to $400,000 of today's money.

Re:Didn't take into account what $400 equivalent i (2)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 3 years ago | (#34551336)

But look what $1 will buy you now that you couldn't buy 200, 100, 50 or even 20 years ago.

Pure inflation rates don't tell the whole story. How much would a bottle of penicillin have cost in 1810... when it didn't exist yet?

Colonization (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550788)

It is obvious from his results that colonization and corruption is no good for any countries health or economic welfare. Could someone please plot up what happens during globalization if its different from results of colonization and then liberation

Chart Source Data (2)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550804)

You can play with the data used to create this graph on his website [gapminder.org] . Very highly configurable...Warning: serious prodictivity killer.

Abortion and Inflation (1)

Khomar (529552) | more than 3 years ago | (#34550926)

I would be curious to know if/how he took into account two items that could seriously skew the data. When you observe the initial dataset in the 1800s, all childhood deaths were reported including stillborn babies and so forth. With abortion, many of the poorer or unhealthy children are more likely to not enter the world. How much of an impact does this have on these figures? How much lower would the American lifespan be if we included the 1.5 million abortions we have every year?

Also, he calculates the figures in terms of dollars, but define a dollar. In 1910, a dollar was worth far more than it is today. I am assuming that he takes into account inflation, but I would be curious to see how.

All that said, that was a fascinating video. I would love to be able to play with the graph and move it back and forth at my own speed to track the various movements of each country through history and so forth. It be fantastic if they put together an interactive website to do just that.

mastering the obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550934)

People live longer and make more money... Since when is this a news?

one word inflation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34550938)

in the 1800 40,000 was a sick amount of money no one had. Now you can't raise a family of 4 on it. I would hardly say 40,000 is wealthy

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