Stats That Tell Stories

Stats aren’t just numbers, they tell stories. Often statistics are seen as boring, but if they’re interpreted and presented in the right way they can offer incredible insights.

No one has demonstrated this more clearly than Hans Rosling. If you haven’t yet, check out his TED talks: The Truth About HIV, New Insights on Poverty, Asia’s Rise – How and When, and Global Population Growth. In each of these talks, Rosling’s passionate demonstrations based on global statistics both entertain and change paradigms.

A key tool used by Rosling is the Gapminder software, which he uses to make his graphs move. The really cool thing is that they’ve made this software is available to all of us! If you’re in the business of presenting or teaching about global topics, or just have a curiosity about history or global development, I’m sure you could make a lot of  use out of the Gapminder software. With it you’re able to compare countries across any two axes to display things like population growth over time, how income affects life expectancy or the use of internet. I used the desktop software for a project at work recently, and while the software wasn’t quite as fluid as I’d hoped, the results were incredibly useful.

Here’s Hans Rosling showing you how to use the desktop software when you’re teaching:

Amazing eh? And that it’s free to use! Now I’m itching for an opportunity to use it in a teaching context. If you use it, let me know how it goes!

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