Your brain isn't designed to digest a big matrix of numbers and then just burp out knowledge. It is designed to spot and recognize patterns, and it's been trained to do that over thousands of years. A good data visualization communicates ideas instantly, but designing one can be a complex task—it's more than just throwing together colors and shapes.

In this episode of PBS Off Book, data visualization pioneer Ed Tufte explains how a well-designed graphic can completely change how we perceive information, and how data should always trump style. "Aesthetics cannot rescue failed content," he says. "There are enormously beautiful visualizations, but that's a byproduct of the truth and goodness of the information." Careful information design is paramount to pulling it off. If only all infographics were so lovingly crafted. [PBS Off Book]