The world lost a great humanitarian and data statistician, a man who became known as the Jedi Master of Data Visualization, with the passing of Professor Hans Rosling on February 7, 2017. Professor Rosling was also a licensed physician and it was his desire to see medicine and statistics used together to make the world a better place.
Prior to 2006, many people did not know about Professor Rosling outside of the medical and statistics world. That changed after his first TED talk where he used statistics to crush assumptions that the developing world was struggling or getting worse and instead with interesting visuals showed improvement. Instead of using PowerPoint presentation, he used software that he co-developed to bring statistics to life and tell the complete story. It was that first TED Talk when people realized that statistics can be educational and entertaining. After his TED Talk, people began to pay attention to the power of visualized statistics incorporated with creative presentations. If you are unsure if statistics can come to life, watch Professor Rosling’s first TED Talk. You will not be disappointed.
Professor Rosling went on to present several more TED Talks as well as continued to pull the truth out of current issues using data visualization. His influence is seen globally. Most recently, the Gapminder Foundation, a non-profit that promotes the use and understanding of statistics regarding global issues, exposed false assumptions of the refugee persona. Through statistics, data and visuals, they are educating the public on the accurate personas of the refugee.
Professor Rosling’s work set the standard for data visualization. A standard that sees data as a story instead of boring numbers, and it is the data analyst’s responsibility to tell it accurately and truthfully. We will miss Professor Rosling, but we can honor him by continuing what he started and tell complete stories using data visualization.