1887
Volume 6, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0142-5471
  • E-ISSN: 1569-979X
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Abstract

The invention of statistical graphics is generally, if inaccurately, attributed to William Playfair His initial innovation, along with his subsequent invention of most of the major repertoire of statistical graphics, is in many ways an enigma of the history of science: (1) Given their apparent obviousness, why had these graphic forms not been previously used for plotting statistics? {2} Why was the Cartesian coordinate system, during a century ami a half from its invention, not regularly applied to the kinds of data which Playfair plotted? (3) Why were the symbolic schematics used by Playfair apparently understood by contemporaries without need for prior learning of his 'conventions'? (4) Why did serious scholarly attention to Playfair'$ innovations occur earlier on the continent than in England? (5) Why subsequently have there been waves of popularity and of neglect of Playfair's forms? (S) Why were statistical graphics invented by a political pamphleteer and business adventurer rather than a scholar or scientist? (7) Why did statistical graphics develop first for social data applications rather than for natural or physical science purposes? Addressing these questions may shed light on developments in schematic representation of statistics from the beginnings of cultural numeracy to the present day The primary explanations of the enigma are: (1) the similarities and differences between the purely empirical data graph and diagrammatic representations of pure or applied mathematical functions; (2) the association of utility of pure data graphs with a statistical orientation toward phenomena, Playfaiťs innovations were facilitated by bis association with science during a time when science was particularly hospitable to highly pragmatic endeavors. His innovations were also facilitated by bis marginality with regard to the science of bis contemporaries.

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/content/journals/10.1075/idj.6.1.01bid
1990-01-01
2019-08-24
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References

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  • Article Type: Research Article
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