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Worst statistical graphic I have seen this year

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This gets my vote for the worst statistical graphic I (Phil) have seen this year. If you’ve got a worse one, put a link in the comments. “Credit” for this one goes to “Peter and Maria Hoey (Source: Tommy McCall/Environmental Law Institute).”

11 thoughts on “Worst statistical graphic I have seen this year

  1. I replotted the information as a bar chart – which makes it easier to understand. However, honestly the data just isn't very interesting (which is maybe why they resorted to this chart).

    Much more interesting would be the benefit provided – how many people are using corn ethanol? What's the total size of the market of traditional fossil fuels to corn – how much are the subsidies as a percent?

  2. You didn't specify the context in which the chart appears, so I don't know for sure, but I assume the chart is not meant to clearly present the quantitative data, but rather as an eye-catcher to get the (lay) audience to focus on the broader issues. And obviously it worked really well this time.

    So although you're right that it's a bad chart from a scientific perspective, I don't think it was ever meant to satisfy scientific standards. It looks cool, and that counts for a lot sometimes.

  3. Great find. Judging from the direction of the distortion, one would think this chart comes from the oil industry. I put up some comments on Junk Charts.

  4. Rahul, I like the labels on your plot.

    Kevin, if they (whoever they are) just want something "eye-catching" they can use a photo or a cartoon or something, they don't need to go to a lot of trouble to make something that looks like an elaborate pie chart but has nonsensical sizes for the pie pieces.

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