Data Are Secular, Not Sacred

Michael Correll and Michael Gleicher, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

In this paper we argue that understanding is more important than data. The human perceptual and cognitive systems have their own complexities which influence how a visualization is processed that may have very little to do with what a viewer sees on a screen. Therefore, the best way to design for understanding may not be to present the most data, or to present the data clearly, or even present the data accurately; as designers we must be willing to ignore, obscure, and distort data in the service of understanding.