Monday, December 07, 2009

Statistics are not Boring, Neither Should We...

We've all sat through our share of boring lectures, classes, even sermons.

Frequently I'm amazed at how subjects that are multi-layered and awe inspiring like the Story of Scripture, the wonder of creation or the dynamics of human history can be flattened down to a mere linear-monotone-humdrum captivity, resulting in what feels like a fatal death by bullet-point.

Let's face it, communicating to a group of people, regardless of the size can be a challenging undertaking. Further, there are certain subjects that seem to not leave much room for creative interpretation or innovative and engaging communication.

Statistics could be one of those subjects.

After all, how much can one do with numbers and graphs to captivate an audience? Hans Rosling is one of those aforementioned persons who deals with copious amounts of data. He is a
professor of International Health, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.

Rosling is however, an example of someone who can take a subject as seemingly mundane and sleep inducing as statistics and communicate it in a way that is humorous, informative, entertaining, no to mention inspiring.

Recently, Hans gave a talk at
TEDIndia in which he vividly demonstrates that statistics are not boring. He brilliantly presents more than numbers, data and statistical predictions. He conveys the story that is actually behind the statistics and the names behind the numbers.

His video is one worth watching. (link)

Hans' video causes me to imaginatively wonder what other subjects have we marginalized to boring, irrelevant, or simply unappealing? Subjects and topics, that if only communicated in the form of a story could come to live with penetrating power?

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