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Must-watch TED Talks for data enthusiasts

One of the best aspects in the ever-growing world of data is that no matter your level of expertise, there is always something new out there to learn. While new tools and technologies are obviously vital to keep up with, listening to industry experts share their own findings, stories, and teachings can also bring us lessons that are just as important. To help share some examples of this incredible knowledge, the Bear Cognition analytics team has rounded up some of our favorite TED Talks regarding data visualization, project processes, and even artificial intelligence. Whether you’re an experienced veteran of data analysis or completely new to the idea, there’s a valuable takeaway for you to discover in each one of these videos!

Quick Hits: ~5 Minute Talks

Tommy McCall: The simple genius of a good graphic

What better way to start off this list than by taking a quick look back at the history of data visualization? In this talk, Tommy McCall takes viewers through a short journey on how visual displays of data have evolved from handwritten graphs to the dynamic and actionable charts that are so prevalent in our current world. His presentation then pivots to do a wonderful job of highlighting how simpler visualizations can often be the most effective for decision-makers.

Lea Gaslowitz: How to spot a misleading graph

“Numbers don’t lie” is a cold hard fact; however, there are a multitude of ways that numbers can be represented in a way to intentionally mislead the audience. In this animated TED Talk, Lea Gaslowitz shows us all just how frequently businesses, politicians, and other organizations will attempt to fool people while showing numbers that are technically true. There are a number of deceptive tricks to accomplish this by modifying, cropping, or even hiding a chart’s axis; thankfully, Gaslowitz is here to teach viewers how to easily identify these instances.

Double Digits: ~12 Minute Talks

Alan Smith: Why you should love statistics

If you’re looking for an example about how powerful data visualization truly is, Alan Smith’s TED Talk is exactly where you’ll find it. Using results from a demographics poll that he released to the public, Smith uses visualization to highlight and address human bias. His application first asked poll users to guess the demographics in their own neighborhood, then used interactivity to compare them to the actual demographic numbers. Watching the real-time change happen via visuals rather than straight-up numbers is astonishingly effective.

Jessica Donohue: The upside of data