Listicles: Where Stats are Popular


There are many forms statistical information can be published. In most cases Official Statistics use press releases or reports or single tables to be downloaded, some also (more and more) visualisations.

But it’s quite rare that rankings or numbered lists are used. And just these forms are among the most popular and attract attention. Who or what is biggest, smallest, first, best? Listicles answer such popular questions: ‘listicle is a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article’ Wikipedia explains.



Also Huffpost does it and …

…  gives a listicle with 8 reasons to avoid listicles



The  phenomenon of written lists Explained (?)

Steven Poole from The Guardian on the crucial facts about the internet phenomenon of written lists and ‘top nine things you need to know about ‘listicles”:
‘Psychologically, the listicle is seductive because it promises upfront to condense any subject into a manageable number of discrete facts or at least factoids. When you embark on reading an ordinary article, you have no way of knowing how many things it will tell you. Maybe 15, maybe two. Frustrating. Plus, if you’re reading online and it’s more than a single screen long, you can’t be sure when it’s going to end. A listicle keeps helpfully informing you how much of it there is left. Great! You’ve now read three out of nine! Keep going!’

Arika Okrent, in University of Chicago Magazine writes about ‘The listicle as literary form’ and gives -as a conclusion – a list of Eight fun facts about the listicle:
‘1.     A listicle is an article in the form of a list.
2.     It is kind of like a haiku or a limerick.
3.     It has comforting structure.
4.     It makes pieces.
5.     It puts them in an order.
6.     Language does that too.
7.     Sometimes with great difficulty.
8.     Lists make it look easier.’

Rachel Edidin from WIRED gives ‘5 Reasons Listicles Are Here to Stay, and Why That’s OK’

And Maria Konnikova from The New Yorker gives ‘A List (yes!) of Reasons Why Our Brains Love Lists’:
‘In the current media environment, a list is perfectly designed for our brain. We are drawn to it intuitively, we process it more efficiently, and we retain it with little effort. Faced with a detailed discussion of policies toward China or five insane buildings under construction in Shanghai, we tend to choose the latter bite-sized option, even when we know we will not be entirely satisfied by it. And that’s just fine, as long as we realize that our fast-food information diet is necessarily limited in content and nuance, and thus unlikely to contain the nutritional value of the more in-depth analysis of traditional articles that rely on paragraphs, not bullet points.’


And Official Statistcs?  …… Bar Charts as Hidden lists

(Official) Statistics are a big provider of lists too …. but they do it not in a very prominent way, often hidden in visualisations. Bar charts compare countries, resources.

Sometimes quite modestly …


Sometimes explicitly,,,




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