Nonpartisan Political Analysis: Science, Pictures, Words

A picture is worth a 1000 words and we should let the words speak for themselves.  Nothing illustrates this better than a recent NY Times article that has counted the number of times that Republican and Democratic Candidates have used specific words at their conventions, and presented us with a picture of the results.  We see a word cloud with each word in a red and blue pie; the red portion illustrating how many times Republicans used it and the blue slice Democrats.  The size of a particular word pie is dependent on how many times it was used.  It is a simple way to present the facts in a format that can be understood by the broadest possible audience.  Worth checking out at http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/06/us/politics/convention-word-counts.html?

It is hard to find nonpartisan political analysis. It is difficult to find ways to illustrate the differences between what the candidates say without introducing personal bias.  Playing the devil’s advocate… In the NY Times article the primary words presented had to be chosen by someone.  This word choice bias, however, is somewhat mitigated by the interactive nature of the picture.  You can add words that you are interested to the picture.  Then, there are others not shown, such as the Green Party which had it’s national convention in July in Baltimore, Md.  Not presenting other viewpoints further marginalizes the minority positions that people already have a hard time hearing through the cacophony of media noise that assaults our senses.

It is election time and like many others I am in interested in finding out more about the different candidates and what they stand for.  Have you found any innovative nonpartisan ways of presenting the political debate?

9/26/12: While not innovative, I just read a BBC article that number-crunched a few stats, such as Romney talking of the 47% that don’t pay taxes and Obama of all the private-sector jobs created.  It illustrates how both sides cherry pick and present the numbers in a way to favor what they want to say.  The numbers really don’t lie, BUT it is the way that we use them that changes the story they tell.

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