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Datavis shenanigans



I have been wanting to do this for days. It is my profession, after all. Or rather, it is a very important part of my profession – data visualization. And I haven’t pored over my Edward Tufte and my Chaomei Chen for nothing for all these years. Only reason I left it so long was that I needed a substantial number of days of both covid 19 test numbers as well as test results to be able to show what I want to show. So, here without further ado, it is:


What you see in this first graph is what you see everywhere from the worldometer site to every other imaginable platform. In fact it is the only thing one seems to see. It is a graph that is made out of accumulated numbers. Meaning that the numbers of the current day get added onto those of all the previous days. Naturally, the graph keeps moving up and up as more and more days during which more and more tests are conducted are added; given that it takes a while, possibly weeks before the cases diagnosed have a chance to recover and can then be subtracted from the total. Which will happen eventually but not right away. So, there will be no downward turn in this graph anytime soon. In fact, heaven forbid a sudden downward turn  – it would mean nothing but people suddenly dying in huge numbers overnight.

It is only natural that people who see graphs like this completely freak out about the unstoppable spread of the pandemic. Completely understandable. But a misplaced fear nevertheless. (As the saying goes – “trust me, I am a designer” ;-). But all kidding aside, this really is my job. I have been doing it and teaching it for nigh on 45 years and I have yet to be fired for incompetence.


Now look at this second graph. It has been compiled out of the exact same numbers that are on the first graph. The difference is that these are percentages that I have calculated out of tests conducted per day and cases identified out of that number. It rises and dips, but the bottom line is that overall it is even. Ergo, no horrifying increase in disease spread as the first chart would have you believe. 

Again folks – you are looking at the exact same data, except that it can be shown to you in very different ways. As any info-vis educated graphic designer worth his or her salt can show you in a flash. Which is what I have done here. 

Which I have not done to soothe your frayed nerves. I have done this to get you to finally turn away from all this and to start looking at the real elephant in the room which is the collapse of the world economy. 

Note: The health ministry gives out test numbers and case numbers here everyday on a web page that is actually very easy to understand. There is a lot of suspicion in the Turkish public that they are hiding the numbers, that these results (both tests and cases) are not accurate. Now, I would be the last person to trust any government agency anywhere in the world, much less my own. So, I am definitely taking this into account. But it is what I have to go on. I have looked for concise, easy to figure out portals like the one here for other countries (well only the US and the UK to be honest) but I can’t seem to find one. Would be nice to be able to do this exercise with some other data sets as well. Especially to find out if the guys here are fibbing or not. But alas…

…………………….

Here is a list of all the days that I have been keeping, in case you are wondering how things are going since April 6th, which is the last day on the graphs above:

  1. 19 March (1981 tests, 168 cases) % 8,48;

  2. 20 March (3656 tests, 311 cases) % 8,50; 

  3. 21 March (2953 tests, 277 cases) % 9,38; 

  4. 22 March (On this date the case number was given (289) however the total test number was not given by the Minister. Some people on twitter came up with a very low test number (1775) which gives a very high percentage result of course – %16,46. This number of 1775 tests, looking at the percentages trend from the days before and after is very likely to be completely bogus, but I am adding it in anyway.)

  5. 23 March (3672 tests, 293 cases) % 8.2

  6. 24 March (3952 tests, 343 cases) % 8.67

  7. 25 March (5.035 tests, 561 cases) % 11.1 (yes, today it has gone up. Taking note)

  8. 26 March (7.286 tests, 1.196 cases) % 16.4 (so yes, this is a big jump. Taking note, of course)

  9. 27 March (7533 tests, 2069 cases) % 27.4 (This does seem to be spreading very quickly. So could it be of more concern than I think? _____ Or, having thought about this for a bit: It could also be the spread pattern of any seasonal flu, of any corona virus. Starts slow then increases rapidly. No way of knowing that. At least for me.) 

  10. 28 March (7641 tests, 1704 cases) % 22.3, 15 deaths

  11. 29 March (9982 tests, 1805 cases) % 18.1, 16 deaths

  12. 30 March (11535 tests, 1610 cases) % 13.9, 33 deaths

  13. 31 March (15422 tests, 2704 cases) % 17.5, 23 deaths

  14. 1 April (14396 tests, 2148 cases) % 14.9, 37 deaths

  15. 2 April (18757 tests, 2456 cases) %13.1, 46 deaths

  16. 3 April (16160 tests,   2786 cases)  %17.2, 144 deaths

  17. 4 April (19664 tests, 3013 cases) %15.3, 67 deaths

  18. 5 April (20065 tests, 3135 cases) %15.6, 76 deaths

  19. 6 April (21400 tests, 3148 cases) %14.7, 73 deaths

  20. 7 April (20023 tests, 3892 cases) %19.4, 75 deaths

  21. 8 April (24900 tests, 4117 cases) %16.5, 76 deaths

  22. 9 April (28578 tests, 4056 cases) %14.9, 87 deaths

  23. 10 April (30864 tests, 4747 cases) %15.3, 96 deaths

  24. 11 April (33170 tests, 5138 cases) %15.4, 95 deaths

  25. 12 April (35720 tests, 4789 cases) %13.4, 97 deaths

  26. 13 April (34456 tests, 4093 cases) %11.8, 98 deaths

  27. 14 April (33070 tests, 4062 cases) %12.2, 107 deaths

  28. 15 April (34090 tests, 4281 cases) %12.5, 115 deaths

  29. 16 April (40427 tests, 4801 cases) %11.8, 125 deaths

  30. 17 April (40270 tests, 4353 cases) %10.8, 126 deaths

  31. 18 April (40520 tests, 3783 cases) %9.3, 121 deaths

  32. 19 April (35344 tests, 3977 cases) %11.2, 127 deaths

  33. 20 April (39703 tests, 4674 cases) %11.7, 123 deaths

  34. 21 April (39429 tests, 4611 cases) %,11.6, 119 deaths

  35. 22 April (37535 tests, 3083 cases) %8.2, 117 deaths

  36. 23 April (40962 tests, 3116 cases) %7.6, 115 deaths

  37. 24 April (38351 tests, 3122 cases) %8.1, 109 deaths

  38. 25 April (38308 tests, 2861 cases) %7.4, 106 deaths

  39. 26 April (30177 tests, 2357 cases) %7.8, 99 deaths

  40. 27 April (20143 tests, 2131 cases) %10.5, 95 deaths

  41. 28 April (29230 tests, 2392 cases) %8.1, 92 deaths

  42. 29 April (43498 tests, 2936 cases) %6.7, 89 deaths

  43. 30 April (42004 tests, 2615 cases) %6.2, 93 deaths

  44. 1 May (41431 tests, 2188 cases) %5.2, 84 deaths

  45. 2 May (36318 tests, 1983 cases) %5.4, 78 deaths

  46. 3 May (24001 tests, 1670 cases) %6.9, 61 deaths

  47. 4 May (36771 tests, 1614 cases) %4.5, 64 deaths

  48. 5 May (33283 tests, 1832 cases) %5.5, 59 deaths

  49. 6 May (30303 tests, 2253 cases) %7.4, 64 deaths

  50. 7 May (30395 tests, 1977 cases) %6.5, 57 deaths

  51. 8 May (33687 tests, 1848 cases) %5.4, 48 deaths

  52. 9 May (35605 tests, 1546 cases), %4.3, 50 deaths

  53. 10 May (36187 tests, 1542 cases) %4.2, 47 deaths

  54. 11 May (32722 tests, 1114 cases) %3.4, 55 deaths

  55. 12 May (37351 tests, 1704 cases) %4.5, 53 deaths

  56. 13 May (33332 tests, 1639 cases) %4.9, 58 deaths

  57. 14 May (34821 tests, 1635 cases) %4.7, 55 deaths

  58. 15 May (38565 tests, 1708 cases) %4.4, 48 deaths

  59. 16 May (42236 tests, 1610 cases) %3.8, 41 deaths

  60. 17 May (35369 tests, 1368 cases) %3.8, 44 deaths

  61. 18 May (25141 tests, 1158 cases) %4.6, 31 deaths

  62. 19 May (25382 tests, 1022 cases) %4, 28 deaths

  63. 20 May (20838 tests, 972 cases) %4.6, 23 deaths

  64. 21 May (33633 tests, 961 cases) %2.8, 27 deaths

  65. 22 May (37507 tests, 952 cases) %2.5, 27 deaths

  66. 23 May (40178 tests, 1186 cases) %2.9, 32 deaths

  67. 24 May (24589 tests, 1141 cases) %4.5, 32 deaths

  68. 25 May (21492 tests, 987 cases) %4.5, 29 deaths

  69. 26 May (19853 tests, 948 cases) %4.7, 28 deaths (I am beginning not to trust the numbers of these past 3 days since they fly in the face of what Knut Wittkowski and other epidemiologists have told over and over. Once a curve starts going down, it doesn’t jump back up, according to them. “Nature never jumps, it moves very smoothly” was what Wittkowski said, in fact. Something is off here, unless it is some kind of human error. But 3 days in a row? Are they trying to delay going back to normal?) 

  70. 27 May (21043 tests, 1035 cases) %4.9, 34 deaths (Yep. I am definitely smelling a rat. According to this percentage we are stuck since pretty much May 8th around the same place, with a 3 day long dip to around 2.5 somewhere in the middle. This feels very wrong to me. Very.)

  71. 28 May (3359 tests, 1182 cases) %3.5, 30 deaths

  72. 29 May (36155 tests, 1141 cases) %3.1, 28 deaths (Back to where it is supposed to be. So, what were the 4 days of %4+ numbers all about then? Human error?)

  73. 30 May (39230 tests, 983 cases) %2.5, 26 deaths

  74. 31 May (35600 tests, 839 cases) %2.3, 25 deaths

  75. 1 June (31525 tests, 827 cases) %2.6, 23 deaths (This is the date that Turkey has completely opened its economy back up. Including regular cafe, tavern etc service. No “new normal” in other words, back to the old normal. I am going to keep track from now to see whether this makes any difference to the graph, which if what the fear mongers out there turn out to be correct in their gloomy predictions should come about in about 15 to 20 days or so. And yes, we have our share of highly effective doomsayer mainstream media and opinion leaders and journalists, as do all other countries.)

  76. 2 June (32325 tests, 786 cases) %2.4, 22 deaths

  77. 3 June (52305 tests, 867 cases) %1.6, 24 deaths

  78. 4 June (54234 tests, 988 cases) %1.8, 21 deaths

  79. 5 June (57829 tests, 930 cases) %1.6, 18 deaths

  80. 6 June (35846 tests, 878 cases) %2.4, 21 deaths

  81. 7 June (35335 tests, 914 cases) %2.6, 23 deaths

  82. 8 June (39363 tests, 989 cases) %2.5, 19 deaths

  83. 9 June (37225 tests, 993 cases) %2.6, 18 deaths

  84. 10 June (36521 tests, 922 cases) %2.5 17 deaths

  85. 11 June (49190 tests, 987 cases) %2.0 17 deaths

  86. 12 June (41013 tests, 1195 cases) %2.9 15 deaths

  87. 13 June (45092 tests, 1459 cases) %3.2 14 deaths (Going up)

  88. 14 June (45176 tests, 1562 cases) %3.4 15 deaths

  89. 15 June (43032 tests, 1592 cases) %3.8 18 deaths

  90. 16 June (46800 tests, 1467 cases) %3.1 17 deaths

  91. 17 June (52901 tests, 1429 cases) %2.7 19 deaths

  92. 18 June (48412 tests, 1304 cases) %2.7 21 deaths

  93. 19 June (41316 tests. 1214 cases) %2.9 23 deaths

  94. 20 June (41112 tests, 1248 cases) %3.0 22 deaths

  95. 21 June (40496 tests, 1192 cases) %2.9 23 deaths

  96. 22 June (41413 tests, 1212 cases) %2.9 24 deaths

  97. 23 June (42982 tests, 1268 cases) %2.9 27 deaths

  98. 24 June (53486 tests, 1492 cases) %2.8 24 deaths

  99. 25 June (52303 tests, 1458 cases) %2.8 21 deaths

  100. 26 June (51198 tests, 1396 cases) %2.7 19 deaths

  101. 27 June (45213 tests, 1372 cases) %3.0 17 deaths

  102. 28 June (48309 tests, 1356 cases) %2.8 15 deaths

  103. 29 June (51014 tests, 1374 cases) %2.7 18 deaths

  104. 30 June (50492 tests, 1293 cases) %2.6 16 deaths

  105. 1 July (52313 tests, 1192 cases) %2.3 19 deaths

  106. 2 July (49714 tests, 1186 cases) %2.4 17 deaths

  107. 3 July (52141 tests, 1172 cases) %2.3 19 deaths

  108. 4 July (48248 tests, 1154 cases) %2.4 20 deaths

  109. 5 July (46414 tests, 1148 cases) %2.5 19 deaths 

  110. 6 July (52193 tests, 1086 cases) %2.1 16 deaths

  111. 7 July (50545 tests, 1053 cases) %2.1 19 deaths

  112. 8 July (49302 tests, 1041 cases) %2.1 22 deaths

  113. 9 July (50103 tests, 1024 cases) %2.0 18 deaths

  114. 10 July (48787 tests, 1003 cases) %2.0 23 deaths

  115. 11 July (48813 tests, 1016 cases) %2.1 21 deaths

  116. 12 July (45232 tests, 1012 cases) %2.2 19 deaths

  117. 13 July (46492 tests, 1008 cases) %2.1 19 deaths

  118. 14 July (43231 tests, 992 cases) %2.3 20 deaths

  119. 15 July (42320 tests, 947 cases) %2.2 17 deaths

  120. 16 July (42411 tests, 933 cases) %2.2 21 deaths

  121. 17 July (41215 tests, 926 cases) %2.2 18 deaths

  122. 18 July (40943 tests, 918 cases) %2.2 17 deaths

  123. 19 July (41310 tests, 924 cases) %2.2 16 deaths

  124. 20 July (43404 tests, 931 cases) %2.1 17 deaths

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