New Product: All Others Must Bring Data

by Terri

Have you been feeling frustrated by people who think that the plural of anecdote is data? For that matter, do people that can't correctly conjugate the plurals around the word data make you cranky? Then you're probably the target audience for this print.

In God We Trust All Others Must Bring Data - Art Print from Geek Calligraphy

How It Came To Be:

Both Ariela and I are quite concerned about how established scientific fact is currently being maimed and mangled to fit current political needs. That's not what data are for. A friend suggested we might do a print based around a quote attributed to Galileo, but it seemed too obscure to convey what we were feeling. Instead, Ariela picked a pointed quote attributed to W. E. Deming.

The graphs and spreadsheets in the background are all from Kaggle, a crowdsourcing platform for data-mining and analytics. As such, Kaggle is an enormous library of publicly available datasets, covering everything from Aviation Accident Synopses  to Dogs of Zurich to the Anime Recommendations Database, and many that are much weirder or more depressing. Also an enormous amount of data about Pokémon.

Which dataset is featured here? Why, the metadata on Kaggle usage! It's data about data, for a lovely, self-referential, navel-gazing loop. How are we presenting it? Honestly, our presentation here is nonsense, with graphs made out of data that show no particular results and spreadsheets juxtaposed just for the heck of it. This probably seems like an odd decision to make here of all places, particularly from an artist who makes much hay about the fact that she doesn't put nonsense text, binary, or even musical notation into her work.  It is there as a commentary on Deming's quote, to act as a caveat. The artful rearrangement of the data into pretty but meaningless patterns reminds us that data is only useful if we know how to analyze it well. If we don't, at best it is noise, and at worst it can lead us to conclude that ice cream causes drowning.* The Deming quote is pithy, but the truth is always more complicated.

This print is relevant for many situations, whether encouraging good decision-making at work or screaming at politicians and talking heads on the news. It is available in two sizes, 8" x 10" and 11" x 14" (matted dimensions) for $35 and $45 respectively.




*This is a famous example of "correlation does not imply causation." As ice cream sales increase, so do drowning deaths. Turns out both are just more common the hotter it gets.