I’ve recently noticed some interesting examples of “argument infographics” – graphics designed to convey complex arguments to wide audiences in accessible and attractive manner. Here are two:
(Click the thumbnails to see full-size versions.)
The purist in me wants to say that these are argument infographics rather than argument maps, properly-so-called. An argument map displays the logical (evidential, inferential) relationships among components in a complex argument, typically using box-and-arrow format. The relationships displayed with boxes-and-arrows in these infographics are not always logical in this sense.
This is easiest to see in the Seven Good Reasons infographic (on the right, above), where arrows between boxes simply indicate order or progression (first this argument, then this one…). There is no logical coherence in the linking of one argument to the next.
Still, if these argument infographics are effective in helping people understand the arguments, then they’re a good thing. And if there is a trend towards the visual display of complex argument – even if in a “merely” infographical way – then that’s a good thing too.
Indeed it is possible that a well-crafted argument infographic may be a better way to communicate complex arguments than a true argument map, the virtues of which may not be apparent to the general reader.