Minister of Information

Friday, March 19, 2010


Edward Tufte is perhaps the country's foremost evangelist for the clean, clear and rich presentation of complex information. The Obama administration's stimulus package is flooding the economy with 787 billion dollars for employment and public works projects. Put the two together, as Obama did earlier this month when he nominated Tufte for the stimulus advisory board with the hopes that the public will have a fighting chance of understanding where the stimulus money went and what it's doing.

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Comments [8]

Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Mr. Rowe, you found the means to engage me. I agree that the Obama Administration has had a very hard time with its pledge. It was unrealistic to begin with. But, you are engaging Bob, really, here, as your last post makes clear.

But, Bob isn't being hypocritical here. He's been on Rove for years and your points are ably defended here, your part in a free press and a free exchange of ideas.

Meanwhile, I heard Rove telling some whoppers just Sunday morning, most cynically claiming his opponent in debate was impugning the honor of the crew of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, for whose mission the Mission Accomplished banner had been hung and not the "end of," whatever, 'active combat operations' "in Iraq". Talk about spin! And gall.

Tufte will illustrate raw data, which is what Obama is after and using new technology, and Tufte, to achieve.

Mar. 25 2010 03:44 PM
David C Rowe from United States

Nice remarks, Stan, and I appreciate them. And it is for this very reason that I made my comment - it was Bob that invoked Rove. I wished he had taken that partisaon comment to MSNBC, and we could have focused on Mr Tufte. Again, thanks.

Mar. 23 2010 02:00 PM

It is good to see that partisan bickering can make it into a thread about trying to improve something the government does. Are there no real comments about Tufte, or the job he has done with If not, please just take it to or whatever.

Tufte's books shed significant light on how to clearly get complex topics across. I for one am glad that someone has taken on trying to do this for

"Lies, damn lies, and statistics" did not get into the lexicon for nothing. Numbers can be skewed any way you like them to be. But if they cannot even be found, isn't that worse?

Mar. 23 2010 12:26 PM
David from Lawrenceville, NJ

Actually, it can easily disputed:

Mar. 22 2010 09:43 AM

"Do you really think that the numbers the White House has given about created jobs is [sic] accurate?"

I don't know, I haven't examined the figures.

I DO know that this administration has been markedly more transparent than the previous one. And as a result, that the press and the American citizens have more data and tools available to determine the accuracy of this White House claims.

That seems rather indisputable.

Mar. 22 2010 08:15 AM
David from Lawrenceville, NJ

MrJM, you protest too much. Of course I didn't say it was a clever ploy to fool the American people (but reporters should dig into how you can string together that many typos in a row.) My point is, let's compare apples to apples. How does Mr. Tufte know that the numbers cannot be used to spin another truth? Let's be serious: This administration has A LOT invested in justifying positive effects of the "Stimulus Package." Do you really think that the numbers the White House has given about created jobs is accurate? Karl Rove has nothing to do with this. Riiiiiight?

Mar. 21 2010 10:13 PM


You are such a clever boy for rooting out that Obama conspiracy.

Of course it wasn't a typo problem; it was obviously a clever ploy to fool the American people. But thank god, it wasn't too clever for your eagle eye!

You are a True American Hero™, David!

Mar. 21 2010 08:57 PM
David from Lawrenceville, NJ

I am glad that Bob asked Edward Tufte if the rich presentation of facts can be misused, because indeed there are no "brute facts." Facts are interpreted and often skewed or spun.

But it was an interesting that Bob's example was Karl Rove using this website for evil, when the present White House has provided their own skewing with their own facts on their own site! I know we're still blaming Bush for everything, but hey, it wasn't Karl Rove that said that more than $1 billion was going to Nevada, including more than $7.7 million for the state's 32nd, 22nd, 9th and 25th congressional districts...districts don't exist! Of course, the Government says these things are just typos. I can hear Rove saying that - but of course, it wasn't!

Let's not let our liberal slips show so easily!

Mar. 21 2010 08:01 PM

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