Why tables are better than graphs in analysis?

I always thought the otherway as graphs help convey the broad trend in a much easier fashion.

Here is Andrew Gelman, a Stats Professor, arguing differently (see his profile here):

The statistical community is divided when it comes to graphical methods and models. Graphics researchers tend to disparage models and to focus on direct representations of data, mediated perhaps by research on perceptions but certainly not by probability distributions. From the other side, modelers tend to think of graphics as a cute toy for exploring raw data but not much help when it comes to the serious business of modeling. In order to better understand the benefits and limitations of graphs in statistical analysis, this article presents a series of criticisms of graphical methods in the voice of a hypothetical old-school analytical statistician or social scientist. We hope to elicit elaborations and extensions of these and other arguments on the limitations of graphics, along with responses from graphical researchers who might have different perceptions of these issues.

Though, he thinks econ do a better job than stats people by using tables:

We’d do well to take a lead from our most prominent social science colleagues—the economists—who have, by and large, held the line on graphics and have insisted on tabular presentations of results in their journals. One advantage of these norms is that, when you read an econ paper, you can find the numbers that you want; the authors of these articles are laying it on the line and giving you their betas. Beyond this, the standardization is a benefit in itself: a patterned way of presenting results allows the expert readers–who, after all, represent the most important audience for journal articles– to find and evaluate the key results in an article without having to figure out new sorts of displays. Less form, more content: that’s what tables are all about. If you’ve found something great and you want to share it with the world, sure, make a pretty graph and put it on a blog. But please, please, keep these abominations out of our scientific journals.

Interesting bit.


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