, ,

Just yesterday, my colleagues and I were discussing the merits of health supplements.  Specifically, we were talking about the extent to which there is scientific evidence to back up their effectiveness claims.  Who knew that I would pop open my Google Reader to find that one of the latest creations from Information is Beautiful focuses on–wait for it–the scientific evidence for supplements!

The visualization is not only beautiful, but also clever, informative, and user friendly.  It takes the most popular supplements and plots them from top to bottom in terms of how strong the scientific evidence is for their relative effectiveness in treating certain conditions.  Additionally, viewers can sort the data by indication to see which supplements are backed (or not) by scientific evidence.

The universe of health supplements is indeed a noisy one, but data visualizations such as this one can help make sense of it all.  Good data visualizations can help separate signals from noise by clearly presenting a large amount of data in a simple, relational way.  In this case, you have the most popular supplements ranked by the degree to which scientific evidence backs their claims.  It is pretty easy to see which claims are valid, and which appear to be nothing but empty promises (and a big waste of money).