The Power of Pictures


For as long as we can remember we’ve been hearing that old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Despite how cliche it sounds nowadays, and how much we cringe at the very mentioning of this over used quote, it still holds true to this day. People use pictures in their arguments because they not only convey a treasure chest of information in a rather simple fashion, but they also convey this information in a very different way. Pictures allow an author to come at an argument at different directions, and as a result what they are writing feels more well rounded. For example, I could be writing an argument about why not to buy a Snuggie. I could go on and on about how all you need is a blanket or a robe, and a Snuggie is just an unnecessary thing to have in general. Soon enough, my reader will become fatigued from reading my sophisticated words and carefully constructed sentences on the matter and there is a good chance that the reader may not get through the whole argument. Information overload perhaps? Now, that’s where I would throw in this picture. Most readers these days will think “Look! Something that isn’t words!” and instantly gravitate towards it. Pictures tend to convey information much simpler and easier to understand than a group of sentences tends to. One could make the claim that a tendency towards pictures is something well ingrained into human nature. Humans had been telling stories with pictures for tens of thousands of years; cave paintings have been around forever after all. Writing is a very new innovation by comparison and as a result may take a back seat to pictures deep in our consciousness.

Also, as evidenced here, pictures tend to be funnier than words, and who doesn’t love a good laugh?

5 thoughts on “The Power of Pictures”

  1. These are all very good points. As you stated, I would much rather see a picture every now and then when reading a passage rather than it just being all words. Pictures give me life when reading!

  2. I like how you have related a simple image to the function of pictures in general. While the flow chart is not what many of us would consider to be a “typical” picture, I think your point about its utility really drives home the power of images. Additionally, your point that text which might be considered information overload can be condensed down to an image that is much easier to follow is eye opening. Because pictures sort words in such a way that we can comprehend data more easily, perhaps our solution to the “big data” problem and information overload is how we analyze and display it?

    1. I also liked how the image was a flow chart. If he was to have written the exact same arguments and logic in the flow chart, then it would have been much more difficult to follow. I feel the same way when people try to say mathematical equations to me. I can’t understand math in english, so when people say equations in conversation, I just find myself constructing the symbolic equations in my head so I can understand it.

  3. I agree with the idea that people are more likely to look at a picture instead of a long drawn out argument. However, a big issue with pictures is that they are very open to interpretation. For art purposes, this is the beauty of pictures, however when using it for argumentative purposes, it can be dangerous. Though in the above picture it is clear the point being argued, others aren’t so straight forward and could cause problems. Arguments should be clear and the point being made should be defined. Most pictures leave too much to be interpreted to be a fully formed argument.

  4. This is a very good post. But when we look at pictures to describe arguments, I think it is not exactly true. Pictures are very different in different eyes. People interpret pictures differently Though the various interpretations may be used to emphasize your point in some arguments but I am not sure it is very effective in strong arguments

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