Yeah, well ... tell yourself whatever you want ... but if you want to understand where a lot of the design ethos you were criticizing comes from, you better read Tufte.
As a designer myself of product interfaces involving complex visualizations that are usually quite data-rich, I find him to be one of my most important influences.
I note he doesn't purport to design for the web though as that, as I have frequently seen mentioned, is a different ball game to print. The closest he comes is to advise on Power Point where he is less than enthusiastic about the use of templates.
But look at the site Jeremy and tell me it is clear, disciplined and presents information in a non confusing way. The menu hardly advertises its presence or function and is not aligned or delineated in any way with the rest of the content, it looks totally ad hoc to be honest. I also had to go over the page several times before I figured out what he was all about, and even now I'm not that certain. Who is he, what does he do, what is he saying/selling? It took a while for the answers to crystallise ensuring that any idea that I had of the fellow being a top communications guru swiftly evaporated as my eye and mind was dragged helter skelter from sculpture to dogs to books to diagrams etc with no clear road map in between.