Great vizzes often lead to the discussion of "how they do that?" and the beautiful thing about Tableau Public is that you can download and reverse engineer it to see what's going on. Being the curious fellow that I am, I did exactly that and found some interesting things. I also thought it would be interesting to look at the data with a slightly different X-Axis, simply the countries' rank of life expectancy, which in effect creates a massive bump chart.
But it also did something else. The lines of some of the countries had massive shifts in short amounts of time. I began to ask myself why that would be - "What would cause a large decrease in life expectancy rapidly?" It turns out that the answer is very sobering - Genocide and War.
When I was in school at Oglethorpe University (before my days at Georgia Tech), I read a book called "A Problem from Hell" by Samantha Power (the current United States' Ambassador to the United Nations) that examined America's role in Genocide in the 20th century. It was one of the most moving and core-shaking books I've ever read.
And so I began to look at this data differently, and I almost fearfully clicked to find Rwanda - the story of genocide which we studied and I knew all too well. The massive loss of life in the early 1990's lit the screen. The loss of over 1 million people shown in a single line.
I let that image sink in to the best of my ability, but frankly it took my breath away.
I next found Bosnia, where about the same time, early 1990's, Slobodan Milosevic was exterminating his people.
Then the Iran - Iraq War from the early 1980's, when both countries experienced tremendous losses as they killed each other.
That was followed by the 'Soviet' people - Russia and Ukraine - losing ground over the past 50 years (even through 2011).
There's even the early effect of the Assad regime and Syrian Civil War which started in Spring 2011 and continues to spiral out of control currently at the hands of ISIS. Future data will likely show what we already fear to be true - another genocide and civil war with devastating results.
And there was Cambodia. I actually was about to exclude this as I thought it was bad data. To see that the life expectancy in 1977 was short of 20 years old, I thought there must have been something wrong. But there wasn't.
Today I learned about the Cambodian genocide of the late 1970's where an unimaginable 1.5M-3M people lost their lives. It's difficult to comprehend. But you can see it in the data.
Putting this together has been very moving and sobering. Please have a look for yourself:
I look forward to your thoughts. Many thanks -