✚ Slow – The Process 143

Welcome to issue #143 of The Process, the newsletter for FlowingData members about how the charts get made. I’m Nathan Yau, and this week I’m thinking about taking things slow to work more thoroughly and wander more.

Become a member for access to this — plus tutorials, courses, and guides.

All the passes in soccer visualized at once

This is a fun soccer graphic by Karim Douïeb. It shows 882,536 passes from 890 matches across various leagues and seasons. It looks cool as a static point cloud, but be sure to check out the animated, interactive version which lets you isolate the view to specific parts of the field.

It reminds me of the Windows 3.1 fireworks screensaver. Those were the days.

You can find the data via StatsBomb, in case you want to play around.

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Billionaire tax rates

ProPublica anonymously obtained billionaires’ tax returns. Combining the data with Forbes’ billionaire wealth estimates, ProPublica calculated a “true tax rate” for America’s 25 richest people:

The results are stark. According to Forbes, those 25 people saw their worth rise a collective $401 billion from 2014 to 2018. They paid a total of $13.6 billion in federal income taxes in those five years, the IRS data shows. That’s a staggering sum, but it amounts to a true tax rate of only 3.4%.

It’s a completely different picture for middle-class Americans, for example, wage earners in their early 40s who have amassed a typical amount of wealth for people their age. From 2014 to 2018, such households saw their net worth expand by about $65,000 after taxes on average, mostly due to the rise in value of their homes. But because the vast bulk of their earnings were salaries, their tax bills were almost as much, nearly $62,000, over that five-year period.

As you might guess, a lot of the disparity has to do with wealth held in unrealized capital gains. The other part is how the ultrawealthy still pay for everything when most of their money is in investments and how that factors into deductions.

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Seeing How Much We Ate Over the Years

How long will chicken reign supreme? Who wins between lemon and lime? Is nonfat ice cream really ice cream? Does grapefruit ever make a comeback? Find out in these charts.

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Money-in-politics nonprofits merge their datasets

Center for Responsive Politics and National Institute on Money in Politics are merging their datasets to make it more accessible:

The nation’s two leading money-in-politics data organizations have joined forces to help Americans hold their leaders accountable at the federal and state levels, they said today.

The combined organization, OpenSecrets, merges the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) and the National Institute on Money in Politics (NIMP), each leading entities for three decades. The merger will provide a new one-stop shop for integrated federal, state and local data on campaign finance, lobbying and more, that is both unprecedented and easy to use.

Good. More important than ever.

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Rockhounding in California

Any outdoor activity sounds amazing at this point. Andrea Roberson and Casey Miller for Los Angeles Times put together this charming to rockhounding in California. Each rock type has the tools needed, laws, and where to find it. The guide even has some 3-D models in there for good measure.

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Writing about probability in a way that people will understand

We see probabilities mentioned in the news, in weather forecasts, during sporting events, political arguments, business reports, elections, medical advice, and scientific findings. But probability is a tricky concept that not all (most?) people understand. Grace Huckins for The Open Notebook outlines useful ways to communicate the numbers more clearly — to increase the chances readers do understand.

On using concrete numbers over percentages:

Concrete numbers can also make statistics feel more personally relevant. A 0.5 percent risk of developing a particular kind of cancer may seem minuscule. But if a reader went to a high school with 1,000 students, they may find it more impactful to hear that five of their classmates, on average, will develop the disease. In a March 2021 story, American Public Media used concrete numbers rather than percentages to communicate race disparities in COVID deaths. They reported that 1 of every 390 Indigenous Americans had died of COVID.

Other tips include using visuals, relatable comparisons, and acknowledging uncertainty instead of speaking in absolutes.


✚ Visualization Books for a Beginner – The Process 142

Welcome to issue #142 of The Process, the newsletter for FlowingData members about how the charts get made. I’m Nathan Yau, and this week I’m thinking about the books I’d recommend (and not recommend) to beginners who want to learn how to visualize data.

Become a member for access to this — plus tutorials, courses, and guides.

Myth of the Asian American model minority, explained with charts

Asian Americans are often viewed as a “model minority”, but when you look, just a little bit closer, the tag doesn’t fit. Connie Hanzhang Jin for NPR breaks it down in a set of six charts.

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