Bond Reporting Standards

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

He says: If you have the data, show them. Instead of whining about “crash” and “upswing” and “slump” and “boom”. Otherwise, someone believes it is 70 % and someone else believes something else. So, the controllers may not copycat the newspapers. He says, they don’t have to: They have their data.

Matt says the same. Roughly. He has shown us a graphic. Sherman Kent drew it. 40 years ago. A secret agent from America. NATO officers were to estimate how much percent Sherman means when he says: something is “highly likely” or “probably” or “unlikely” or “highly unlikely” and so on.

Measuring Perceptions of Uncertainty
Source: Richards J. Heuer, Jr.: Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, Langley 1999, p. 155.

Ah. Quite dangerous. After all, this was about military stuff. If the CIA tells the President, the bad guys are coming “probably”. And the President understands, ok, well, maybe with a probability of 25 %. But the CIA had 75 % in mind: Phew.

Sherman said, that´s why there have to be standards for words in the reports of intelligence agencies:

Certain 100 %  
Almost certain 93 % +/- 6 %
Probable 75 % +/- 12 %
Chances about even 50 % +/- 10 %
Probably not 30 % +/- 10 %
Almost certainly not 7 % +/- 5 %
Impossible 0 %  

Maybe. Anyway: Rules are good. Whining is bad.

Good old Times

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Many cut axes just because of Excel. And go to charting hell. Because when you cut you distort. And when you distort you lie. At least with your graph. The graphical change in your data is no longer proportional to the change in values. He explains it quite well with a demolished graph from the SportAuto magazine. Here is a positive example. From the German newspaper “Die ZEIT”. This newspaper is off the mark sometimes, too.

Strike at the German Post, information on market share and letter volume
Die ZEIT, 2008–04–30, p. 37, market share of Deutsche Post (left) and number of letters in Germany in billions (right)

All my rules are observed. Time runs from left to right. Scale starts at zero. The graph is proportional to its values. No exaggeration. No gadgets. No unnecessary percentage signs. Letters in billions, not in single pieces.

In the same issue another good graph. Structure is shown top-down. Labeling where it belongs: next to the columns. At least for the values. I would have left out the series “andere” (“others”). The dots, too.

The demand for academics rises, data on the automotive sector in Germany
Die ZEIT, 2008–04–30, p. 78, academics in the automotive sector, for automobile manufacturers and suppliers

Bella Reporting Standards

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

The day before yesterday Rolf and I raged again. We took apart annual reports of large corporate groups. We made fun of tachometers. We showed how charts lie. We established rules. We defined standards. Some of the rules are in the example. Time runs from left to right. Only structure is shown top-down. We don’t use funny patterns. We label directly. We never label twice. We avoid legends and scales.

Rules for charts

Charts show profits (Gewinne) of TUI AG, a major German company for tourism (Touristik, red), shipping (Schifffahrt, blue), and logistics.