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Illustrating injury
  1. Brian D Johnston
  1. Correspondence to Brian D Johnston, University of Washington, Harborview Medical Center, 325 Ninth Avenue, Box 359774, Seattle 98104, USA; ipeditor{at}bmjgroup.com

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In his book Brain rules, developmental molecular biologist John Medina argues, among other things, that “vision trumps all other senses”. Human beings are innately conditioned to respond more rapidly, more easily and more accurately to information presented visually. Images—not spoken language, not text—are what communicate most directly to the human brain. We are wired to grasp and respond to visual information.

This simple principle has far reaching implications. In our various disciplines as academicians, policymakers and public health practitioners, we strive constantly to communicate. We want our messages to be accurate, efficient and compelling. Yet we repeatedly fall back on words, text, numbers and data to make our case. These are inefficient strategies that ask much from an audience who might not care to spare us the effort.

As in other fields of public health, injury prevention often struggles with the need to communicate the magnitude and distribution of the burden of disease. League tables or pie charts of proportional mortality are routinely produced, but surely there are many more visually compelling formats for the presentation of these data. In this issue, Lee et al1 take …

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