Latest Dispatches

chart of land claims in antarctica
13 Apr 2016

Who Owns Antarctica?

Here’s a question we never thought to ask. Fortunately, there’s an already answer — although you’ll have to take that ride for yourself if you want to know. #nospoilers It’s a convoluted tale, as you might expect. It’s creator, CGP Grey, has a channel filled with some pretty incredible explainer

General Knowledge 0
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13 Mar 2016

Read: The Truthful Art

Something for the reading list, if you’re interested in infographics and/or visual information design. Alberto Cairo has a new book called “The Truthful Art: Data, Charts and Maps for Communication.” (grab a copy on Amazon, or your fav bookseller) You can also read an excerpt from the book over at

General Knowledge 0
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28 Feb 2016

Hero Salute: What Issue Advocates Can Learn from John Oliver

Last year, the War on Stupid talked about how John Oliver was a model for high-quality information translation practices. He has the ability to take complex issues like the prison-industrial complex or net neutrality and repackage into something more readily accessible for laypeople. Earlier in February, communications shop Blue Engine Media dropped a similar read, but focused

General Knowledge 0
bigshort_banner
15 Feb 2016

The Big Short and Information Translation

Adam Mckay’s Oscar-nominated film adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book of (nearly) the same title is a perfect embodiment of the ideas we’ve been espousing here at The War on Stupid for several years now: The way to help people acheive a deeper understanding of complex issues is to serve the explanation with a

General Knowledge 0
A google news alert for "making sense of complex issues."
21 Jan 2016

Media Fails

The popular media must not be doing a very good job because I set this news alert up more than a year ago and I still haven’t gotten anything delivered to my inbox. And then people wonder why political discourse has devolved and civility has declined. For American Democracy to

General Knowledge 0
california-traffic-save-water-AP_281311805550
19 Jul 2015

Read: The California Drought is Part of a Much Bigger Crisis

The Western U.S. is being hit with droughts across several ranges of time. There’s longer-term dryness from Nevada and Arizona that causes higher levels of dust to melt snowpack in the Rockies faster than normal. Colorado has too much water in some places, after nearly a decade of too little

General Knowledge 0
FastCo-ObamaStartup
12 Jul 2015

Rethinking Government

Here’s a great example of how to make government less stupid (because that behemoth of bureaucracy couldn’t be more broken at this point, at least at the federal level). Obama has recruited a startup operation, now 140 people strong and including former Silicon Valley wiz-kids in its ranks, in order to reimagine how

General Knowledge 0
moviejournalism_banner
11 Jun 2015

Are Movies the New Journalism?

The Columbia Journalism Review makes a compelling case that we’re living in a Golden Age of documentaries and that filmmaking will soon eclipse longform journalism as a primary means of conveying complex information. “What makes documentary film a better truth-delivery system than print? The most effective documentaries combine advocacy with immediacy. Film

General Knowledge 0
hotdog banner
03 Jun 2015

The Ultimate Guide to Hotdog Styles

Have you ever wondered to yourself what differentiated a Cleveland-style hotdog from the average Chilean’s preferred presentation? Breathe a sigh of relief because awkward moments when you can’t remember 40 cultural variations on sausage-style cased meats are a thing of the past. The good people at Food Republic have created this

General Knowledge 0
making-a-list2
25 May 2015

O.P.L.? Other People’s Listicles

A few years ago, someone realized that the internet and lists go together like milk and Oreos. The list is an amazing medium for transmitting text in the harried digital environment of the web. It’s small chunks (easy to understandvisually and quick to read) that are prioritized in order of

General Knowledge 0
420 explainer guardian
22 Apr 2015

“The Hazy History of 420″

April 20th has turned into a ridiculously profitable holiday for Denver’s burgeoning marijuana industry. People travel from all over the country to partake in a handful of massive events. Of all the places Snoop Dogg could be smoking weed, he’s been in Denver the last few years to celebrate. As

General Knowledge 0
gap2
14 Apr 2015

Visualizing the Gender Gap

Ready for an interactive chart party? Australian Ri Liu created “Close the Gap,” which mined United Nations’ data from the Human Development report. [Note: How sci-fi-alien-sounding is that report title?! Intergalactic incubators.] You can vary data on global gender gaps (by country) in categories such as labor force participation, secondary education, income level

General Knowledge 0
LWT_sec215
06 Apr 2015

Hero Salute: A Master Lesson in Making the Complex Understandable

We’ve been fans of John Oliver’s show Last Week Tonight ever since his now famous rant on Net Neutrality went viral and nearly broke the FCC website. But on one of his latest videos he’s managed to outdo himself again and teach us budding sense-makers a thing or too on

Special Ops 0
banking explained screenshot
27 Mar 2015

Banking Explained

Regular visitors may recall a post back in December about creative agency Kurzgesagt’s video series breaking down all sorts of contemporary issues into wonderful animated shorts. One of their recents deconstructs the development of contemporary big banks and all of the complexities they’re exploiting for profit. If you still aren’t sure

General Knowledge 0

Stupid Thoughts

fact_checking_banner
05 May 2016

Fact-Checking in the New Information Age

Brave new world There is very little doubt in my mind that the next front in the War on Stupid will play out across a field of algorithms. It already is to an increasing degree, as people discover endless mountains of content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al. There’s so much

General Knowledge 0
chart of land claims in antarctica
13 Apr 2016

Who Owns Antarctica?

Here’s a question we never thought to ask. Fortunately, there’s an already answer — although you’ll have to take that ride for yourself if you want to know. #nospoilers It’s a convoluted tale, as you might expect. It’s creator, CGP Grey, has a channel filled with some pretty incredible explainer

General Knowledge 0
john_oliver_banner
28 Feb 2016

Hero Salute: What Issue Advocates Can Learn from John Oliver

Last year, the War on Stupid talked about how John Oliver was a model for high-quality information translation practices. He has the ability to take complex issues like the prison-industrial complex or net neutrality and repackage into something more readily accessible for laypeople. Earlier in February, communications shop Blue Engine Media dropped a similar read, but focused

General Knowledge 0
bigshort_banner
15 Feb 2016

The Big Short and Information Translation

Adam Mckay’s Oscar-nominated film adaptation of Michael Lewis’s book of (nearly) the same title is a perfect embodiment of the ideas we’ve been espousing here at The War on Stupid for several years now: The way to help people acheive a deeper understanding of complex issues is to serve the explanation with a

General Knowledge 0
A google news alert for "making sense of complex issues."
21 Jan 2016

Media Fails

The popular media must not be doing a very good job because I set this news alert up more than a year ago and I still haven’t gotten anything delivered to my inbox. And then people wonder why political discourse has devolved and civility has declined. For American Democracy to

General Knowledge 0
FastCo-ObamaStartup
12 Jul 2015

Rethinking Government

Here’s a great example of how to make government less stupid (because that behemoth of bureaucracy couldn’t be more broken at this point, at least at the federal level). Obama has recruited a startup operation, now 140 people strong and including former Silicon Valley wiz-kids in its ranks, in order to reimagine how

General Knowledge 0
moviejournalism_banner
11 Jun 2015

Are Movies the New Journalism?

The Columbia Journalism Review makes a compelling case that we’re living in a Golden Age of documentaries and that filmmaking will soon eclipse longform journalism as a primary means of conveying complex information. “What makes documentary film a better truth-delivery system than print? The most effective documentaries combine advocacy with immediacy. Film

General Knowledge 0
making-a-list2
25 May 2015

O.P.L.? Other People’s Listicles

A few years ago, someone realized that the internet and lists go together like milk and Oreos. The list is an amazing medium for transmitting text in the harried digital environment of the web. It’s small chunks (easy to understandvisually and quick to read) that are prioritized in order of

General Knowledge 0
science-journ-banner
13 Feb 2015

The State of Science Journalism

There was a great piece on Fishbowl DC about the lack of science journalism in America and how it affected public policy. This followed directly on the heels of Congressional votes on whether climate change was real and whether it was caused by humans or not — so needless to say,

General Knowledge 0
pbs miami backdrop
27 Dec 2014

An Advanced Degree in Fighting Stupid

The University of Miami has created a multi-disciplinary MFA combining Journalism, Data Visualization and Mapping. It sounds like it’ll churn out amazing soldiers ready to fight the War on Stupid. According to professor Alberto Cairo: In the three years that I’ve been a professor of data visualization and infographics at

General Knowledge 0
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