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The worst graph every made?

This (found by Kaiser Fung from this horrible BBC site) it is possibly the worst graph I’ve ever seen:

skillswise.png

As Kaiser writes, “The use of patterns for shading is especially disconcerting. The graphic also lacks self-sufficiency as we have trouble comparing countries without referencing the underlying data.” And commenter Chris Hibbert points out that “they seem to be using a pie chart to compare independent data points. The chart about GP consultations should be a bar chart, since the point is to compare the countries side-by-side rather than to emphasize that they make up a single whole (they don’t.)” Actually, I’d prefer a dotplot (following Bill Cleveland’s general advice), but that’s just quibbling.

11 Comments

  1. Ed says:

    To top it all off, it appears that their font of choice is comic sans!

    It's been awhile, but I seem to remember these sorts of graphs being common on proficiency tests for elementary students…

  2. K Wright says:

    I'm not sure why you discredit Comic Sans. Is it because of personal taste?

    I often give presentations about data quality and one of my recommendations is to move away from fonts that have visually indistinct glyphs (one, capital i, etc) like Arial and instead use fonts that have unique, clear letters. Comic Sans is one good font for visual clarity (along with Times, Andale Mono, Tahoma, and some others).

    I could understand someone saying, "To top it off, they used Arial", but I disagree with your comment. Comic Sans may not appeal to everyone's taste, but it is a good font to convey information.

    K Wright

  3. Ed says:

    I agree that it's a matter of personal taste. I view the use of special fonts as similar to adding unnecessary things to graphs such as multiple colors, 3D, those horizontal lines that Excel seems to put in every graph, etc. Keep it simple and give me the same font you use to write manuscripts.

  4. MBZ says:

    Then why not handwrite the graph altogether.

    My point is it has nothing to do with personal taste. I mean, writing in Comic Sans (although it may have more distinct characters than some others, and I may even agree) is for me the same as telling me a joke. No one would ever explain a graphic using that joke tone, then why use Comic Sans?

  5. The horror, the horror !

  6. Janet says:

    Perhaps the six countries share one doctor, with initials GP.

  7. John G. Bullock says:

    possibly the worst graph I've ever seen

    Oh, I think that Tufte's <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0961392142/ref=sib_dp_srch_pop/102-5820899-4026538?v=search-inside&keywords=worst+graphic+ever&go.x=0&go.y=0&go=Go%21#&quot; rel="nofollow">worst graphic ever has this beat.

  8. Peter Hoff says:

    Here is my nomination for the worst graphic ever:

    http://www.stat.washington.edu/hoff/public/lthumb

    It appeared in USA Today in 2005 under the question "Which cities love coffee the most?"

    How many statistical flaws can you identify?

  9. Andrew says:

    Yeah, but pulling something off USA Today . . . that's cheating!

  10. Hadyn says:

    Um just a nitpick, did you notice that the title of this post is: "The worst graph every made?"

  11. Andrew says:

    Haydn,

    Well, as Homer Simpson would say . . .

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