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uuuuuuuuuuuuugly

Hamdan Azhar writes:

I came across this graphic of vaccine-attributed decreases in mortality and was curious if you found it as unattractive and unintuitive as I did. Hope all is well with you!

My reply: All’s well with me. And yes, that’s one horrible graph. It has all the problems with a bad infographic with none of the virtues. Compared to this monstrosity, the typical USA Today graph is a stunning, beautiful masterpiece. I don’t think I want to soil this webpage with the image. In fact, I don’t even want to link to it.

17 Comments

  1. And yet you put up that press shot from Abduction! I am going to have to read this blog with image loading turned off.

  2. derek says:

    It’s amazing how proud they are of it: they name the graphic designer responsible and invite you to go to his web site to “see more of his work”(!)

  3. Sam R. says:

    I made a perfect comment about this, but I’m not going to post it.

  4. derek says:

    Yeah, I ended up googling “vaccines graphic”. It’s the forbes.com one.

  5. MikeM says:

    WRT graphics, the title of this post is a bit of trompe d’oeil. It looks as if a white box truncated the top.

  6. GenXWho says:

    What is the point of this post? Somebody, somewhere made an ugly graph? Stop the presses!

    • Andrew says:

      Gen:

      We don’t actually have “presses.” The blog is a continuous flow of posts. I recommend you skip the ones that you don’t find interesting.

  7. Chris G says:

    > In fact, I don’t even want to link to it.

    I’d comment, but there’s a really horrible accident I’ve gotta go check out.

  8. Nick says:

    I presume this is the infographic in question: http://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2013/02/19/a-graphic-that-drives-home-how-vaccines-have-changed-our-world/

    Unless I missed a link somewhere in the post?

  9. Brad Stiritz says:

    Andrew,

    I’m sorry, I don’t understand your inconsistency. You bravely criticize fellow academics by name in this blog, and go into great detail explaining why their work doesn’t measure up. Yet elsewhere, as in this posting and another one I saw recently, you take little potshots at mainstream statistical graphics, without (a) linking to the primary URL or (b) explaining even in brief what exactly is so horridly awful about the presentation.

    I have great respect for you, but this crypto-criticism seems a little beneath you. I understand that it signals very high status, in that people have to work to figure out what’s obviously so unworthy, but the display seems a little out-of-place.

    • Andrew says:

      Brad:

      This post was just for amusement purposes. It’s not about signaling status, whatever that might mean. People send me emails linking to graphs that they hate, this was just one more example. I don’t really care about this graph, I just thought it was funny that people send me these emails. I’d rather if people sent me links to graphs they liked!

      • Brad Stiritz says:

        Andrew,

        >It’s not about signaling status, whatever that might mean.

        With all due respect, I think many theoretical biologists might disagree with you:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signalling_theory

        >I just thought it was funny that people send me these emails.

        Yes, well, talking about awful graphs that people send you without linking to them is like repeating a joke but withholding the punch line..

        • Andrew says:

          Brad:

          Uh oh, next I’ll be getting Freudian commenters telling me that all my blogging is a product of some repression related to some childhood pooping trauma . . .

          All-encompassing theories are fine, but I’d prefer not to be objectified, not when there’s a much more direct explanation for my behavior, in this case that I was telling an in-joke for the benefit of my regular readers.

          • Popeye says:

            Interestingly, people who claim that all behavior is just status signaling are almost always projecting, yet they never seem to apply their insight on themselves. Kind of like economists who think that all behavior is explained by incentives, but not because they have incentive to think that, they’re just clear-eyed truthtellers.

            • Brad Stiritz says:

              Popeye,

              >Interestingly, people who claim that all behavior is just status signaling are almost always projecting, yet they never seem to apply their insight on themselves.

              Interesting comment.. is it possibly directed at me, since I brought up the topic? I’m happy to give Andrew the last word (and therefore signal my lower status!) since this is his blog after all. But I’m afraid I have to object to you piling-on with an unresearched & uninformed, anonymous pot-shot. Were you thinking you could signal higher status vs. me so easily? ;p

              I hope everyone gets the intended joke here..

    • Andrew doesn’t want to be known as the king of bad graphs. He started rebelling against this several years ago by posting this sort of snarky stuff. Apparently not everyone gets it.

      One of the things I love about Andrew’s blog is that it’s more of an after-dinner-conversation with your friendly neighborhood statistician than it is a series of academic papers with open commentary periods.