Current Affairs

48 posts
Starstruck and doubled over: losing poise over Indian charts

Twitter follower @ashwink_s didn't see eye-to-eye with the following charts that appeared in an Indian publication. There is the infamous racetrack chart: In the racetrack chart, the designer has embedded data in the angles at the center of the concentric circles but the visual cues point to the arc lengths. If the same proportion of people voted Yes as voted No, the two arcs should look like this: The length...

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Another simple Excel chart needs help

Twitter friend Jimmy A. asked if I can help Elon Musk make this chart "more readable". Let's start with a couple of things he did right. Placing SpaceX, his firm's data, at the bottom of the chart is perfect, as the bottom part of a stacked column chart is the only part that is immediately readable. Combining all of Europe into one category and Other U.S. into one group reduce...

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Unintentional deception of area expansion #bigdata #piechart

Someone sent me this chart via Twitter, as an example of yet another terrible pie chart. (I couldn't find that tweet anymore but thank you to the reader for submitting this.) At first glance, this looks like a pie chart with the radius as a second dimension. But that is the wrong interpretation. In a pie chart, we typically encode the data in the angles of the pie sectors, or...

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Making people jump over hoops

Take a look at the following chart, and guess what message the designer wants to convey: This chart accompanied an article in the Wall Street Journal about Wells Fargo losing brokers due to the fake account scandal, and using bonuses to lure them back. Like you, my first response to the chart was that little has changed from 2015 to 2017. It is a bit mysterious the intention of the...

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Reorientation in the French election

Financial Times has this chart up about the voters for the National Front, which is Marie Le Pen's party. I find the chart very hard to decipher, even though I usually like the dot plot format. The first thing to figure out is not visual. It's a definition of the data. The average voter represents those who voted in the 2015 regional election. The National Front voters are those who...

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Your charts need the gift of purpose

Via Twitter, I received this chart: My readers are nailing it when it comes to finding charts that deserve close study. On Twitter, the conversation revolved around the inversion of the horizontal axis. Favorability is associated with positive numbers, and unfavorability with negative numbers, and so, it seems the natural ordering should be to place Favorable on the right and Unfavorable on the left. Ordinarily, I'd have a problem with...

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Much more to do after selecting a chart form

I sketched out this blog post right before the Superbowl - and was really worked up as I happened to be flying into Atlanta right after they won (well, according to any of our favorite "prediction engines," the Falcons had 95%+ chance of winning it all a minute from the end of the 4th quarter!) What I'd give to be in the SuperBowl-winning city the day after the victory! Maybe...

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Butcher: which part of the leg do you want? Me: All of it, in five pieces please

This ABC News chart seemed to have taken over the top of my Twitter feed so I better comment on it. Someone at ABC News tried really hard to dress up the numbers. The viz is obviously rigged - Obama at 79% should be double the length of Trump's 40% but not even close! In the Numbersense book (Chapter 1), I played the role of the Devious Admissions Officer who...

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Lines that delight, lines that blight

This WSJ graphic caught my eye. The accompanying article is here. The article (judging from the sub-header) makes two separate points, one about the total amount of money raised in IPOs in a year, and the change in market value of those newly-public companies one year from the IPO date. The first metric is shown by the size of the bubbles while the second metric is displayed as distances from...

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Chopped legs, and abridged analyses

Reader Glenn T. was not impressed by the graphical talent on display in the following column chart (and others) in a Monkey Cage post in the Washington Post: Not starting column charts at zero is like having one's legs chopped off. Here's an animated gif to show what's taking place: (you may need to click on it to see the animation) Since all four numbers show up on the chart...

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