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The Truthful Art: Data, Charts, and Maps for Communication by Alberto Cairo

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3. The Truth Continuum

To believe that truth is true is not due to daring, but due to humility: the honest man does not think he gets a veto over reality.

—John C. Wright. Transhuman and Subhuman: Essays on Science Fiction and Awful Truth

I’ll begin with an axiom:

Any visualization is a model.

Think of a locator map. A map is always a simplified depiction of a particular area. It doesn’t look exactly like the area itself. Mapmakers remove needless features and emphasize the ones that matter to them in a process of rational and systematic abstraction. Road maps, for instance, highlight roads, cities, towns, and boundaries. Their function is to help you find your way around, not to display every single mountain, valley, or river.

The idea of model ...

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