Ah the Chernoff face. It was the 70s. There were lots of new ideas floating around and a general malaise for the pedestrian modes of communication. A statistician named Herman Chernoff noted our minds’ insanely keen ability to decode hosts of meaning from peoples’ minute expressions, so he thought to leverage it to encode data into cartoon faces for statistical visualizations. Each little bit of the face could represent some data value. Naturally it didn’t take cartographers long to start packing these multivariate symbols into maps. Are they worthwhile? It depends.