gerg comments on Bayes' Theorem Illustrated (My Way) - Less Wrong

126 03 June 2010 04:40AM

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Comment author: 04 June 2010 08:35:11AM 2 points [-]

A presentation critique: psychologically, we tend to compare the relative areas of shapes. Your ovals in Figure 1 are scaled so that their linear dimensions (width, for example) are in the ratio 2:5:3; however, what we see are ovals whose areas are in ratio 4:25:9, which isn't what you're trying to convey. I think this happens for later shapes as well, although I didn't check them all.

Comment author: 04 June 2010 08:59:22AM 2 points [-]

Really? I'd have said the exact opposite. For example in this post, the phrase "half the original's size" means that the linear dimensions are halved. This issue also come up in the production of bubble charts, where the size of a circle represents some value. When I look at a bubble chart it is often unclear whether the data is intended to be represented by the area or the radius.

It is certainly easier for me to compare linear dimensions than areas.

Comment author: 04 June 2010 07:16:31PM 2 points [-]

Hence the popularity of bar charts, where the area and the linear dimension are coupled. But the visual impact is a function of area, more than length, even if it is hard to quantify in the eye - but quantification should be done by the quantitative numbers, not by graphical estimation.

(How many sentences can I start with conjunctions? Let me count the ways...)