It is a myth that data speaks for itself. The analyst speaks for the data. The analyst chooses what questions to ask, what analyses to run, and how they are interpreted and summarized.
I use excerpts from a paper by Gilliam et al. on the media portrayal of crime to walk through one set of choices made by a group of analysts. (The excerpts also highlight the need for reading a paper fully than relying on the abstract alone.)
White Violent Criminals Are Overrepresented
White Nonviolent Criminals Are Overrepresented
Relative Underrepresentation Between Violent and Nonviolent Crime is a Problem
Compare the above with the following figure and interpretation from Reaching Beyond Race by Sniderman and Carmines. Rather than focus on the middle two peaks: 28 vs. 43, Sniderman and Carmines write: “we were struck by the relative absence of racial polarization.” (Added on 10/4/2023)