CHAPTER16INSPIRE TRUST

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Mankind are not held together by lies. Trust is the foundation of society. Where there is no truth, there can be no trust, and where there is no trust, there can be no society.

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, 1869

I am a junkie for data stories that instantly impact how I see the world. I still cling to a vivid childhood memory of this kind of experience. I was sprawled over the red carpet of my bedroom floor, lost in a Zoobooks magazine about pachyderms. One striking spread illustrated an Indian elephant with all the food it consumes in a single year. Towers of hay and alfalfa surrounded the animal. Tanker trucks of water stretched to the horizon. The visual still resonates.

Today, creating this kind of ah-ha magic is what I live for. But now I appreciate that inspiring is not a momentary endeavor. Many people have been slow to accept scientific realities, such as the age of the Earth and the evolution of the species. Evidence still competes with strong traditional convictions about where everything comes from. We hope that data shown well will convince audiences to sprint to the side of reason. Any practiced data storyteller knows that it is more complicated than that. Our best efforts sometimes fail to persuade. People are often numb to evidence, and this creates quite a challenge to the data storyteller.

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