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The art and science of the scatterplot

Pew – “In a recent survey of what Americans know about science, we asked people to interpret the chart you see here and tell us what it showed. Six-in-ten (63%) identify the best interpretation of this chart as “the more sugar people eat, the more likely they are to get cavities.” This kind of chart — known as a scatterplot — is very familiar to people who are used to working with numbers, such as economists, scientists, researchers and data journalists. It is a good way to show a relationship between two variables. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the people we surveyed who were most likely to interpret our scatterplot example correctly were the college educated. About eight-in-ten (79%) of those with a college degree and 84% of those with a postgraduate degree chose the right answer out of four options. In contrast, only half of those with a high school education or less drew the correct conclusion. The education gap on the scatterplot question was second only to the question we asked about what property determines the loudness of sound.”

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