Misleading Graphs in actual Life: Overview

Misleading graphs are periodically deliberately misleading and also sometimes it’s simply a case of human being not knowledge the data behind the graph they create. The “classic” varieties of misleading graphs include situations where:

The Vertical range is too big or too small, or skips numbers, or doesn’t start at zero.The graph isn’t labeling properly.Data is left out.

You are watching: Look at the bar graph. what is the most accurate conclusion someone can draw from this graph?

But some actual life misleading graphs go above and beyond the standard types. Some room intended come mislead, others space intended come shock. And in part cases, well-meaning individuals just acquired it all plain wrong. This are several of my favorite recent-history misleading graphs from genuine life.

Watch the video clip for a couple of examples:
Can’t watch the video? Click here.

Misleading Graphs: The lacking Baseline.

The Times pipeline the remainder behind…or go it?

Image: university of Kentucky.

You can be reasoning that the graph on the right reflects The time makes dual the sales the The day-to-day Telegraph. But take a closer look in ~ the scale and also you’ll watch although The time does make an ext sales, it’s just beating the competition by about 10%.

USA Today

USA this particular day is well known for fussy graphs that have too much information and also mislead. This graph provides our welfare trouble look choose it’s spiraling the end of control. Yet note wherein the y-axis starts…at 94 million!

This one has the exactly figures, but that large HEADLINE renders you think that 5.3% of children get spinal cord injuries…a pretty scary statistic because that parents:
For the record, the real number is around .0000003% (based ~ above 2000 injuries every year the end of a populace of about 74,000,000).

Fox News Misleading Graphs.

Fox News showed this chart of what would occur if the bush tax cut expired. Disastrous, right? Again, examine the scale (it starts at 34). Every is no what it seems.


Not to keep on bashing top top Fox News, but their name came up time and time again when searching for misleading graphs from real life. Here’s another, design to display that ~ a little drop in joblessness it walk up and also up in the Obama administration.

Image Source: http://cloudfront.mediamatters.org

Note the the value for November (8.6) has not to be plotted correctly. It’s placed at the 9.0 position. That’s not the only trouble with this graph. It’s been plotted come look favor there’s exponential development when in fact, the in its entirety employment tendency is pretty stable at approximately 9%.

Here’s what the graph should look prefer if it had been plotted correctly. Check out the difference?


Those d%$n Liberals!

A final instance of this kind of misleading graph. Terrycloth Schiavo was removed from life assistance after a years-long court battle. CNN provided a graph comparable to the one below to show who agreed v the decision to eliminate the feeding tube.

Image: western Reserve public Media.

A fist look in ~ this graph makes it look like three times as many democrats sustained the decision. But on closer inspection, note the scale on the vertical axis. Only slightly more democrats supported than republicans (62% vs. 54%).

What is the difficulty with these certain misleading graphs from actual life? In general, graphs should present a baseline. A baseline is zero on the vertical scale. Graphs that have actually a missing baseline and also start at some arbitrary number (34 on the Fox News image) tend to be really misleading. Once you look at a graph and shot to figure out if it’s a true depiction of what’s really going on, check that baseline.

Misleading Graphs: Incomplete Data.

If friend really desire to do a shocking statement, make sure you only include component of the data. Take it this first example the a misleading graph the proves an international warming is real.

Global Warming the end of Control!

What’s wrong v this picture? It just shows the very first half the the year, so of course temperatures are climbing dramatically.

Deficit an recurring Problem!

Here’s an additional example of incomplete data. This graph renders it look prefer the deficit has constantly been high, since the graph start in 2009. This could lead you to think the the deficit has actually been an continuous problem. It hasn’t: The deficit was just 1.2 percent of GDP in 2007, once the real estate market collapsed.


Our Cream to win the Itch!

I’m not certain what to say around this graph for the anti-itch cream, Lanacane.

" width="320" height="240" class="alignnone size-full wp-image-11402" srcset="https://inter-base.net/look-at-the-bar-graph-what-is-the-most-accurate-conclusion-someone-can-draw-from-this-graph/imager_9_1360_700.jpg 320w, https://www.inter-base.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/lanacane1-300x225.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 320px) 100vw, 320px" />It looks prefer lanacane works far better than constant anti-itch cream, right? keep in mind the lack of labels. What is this graph actually informing us? Pretty much nothing in ~ all various other than your statisticians are very good at making not-very-good graphs.

Misleading Graphs: just Reading it level Wrong

Global Warming Stopped!

Here’s another global warming picture, from the brothers tabloid the letter on Sunday. The newspaper supplied it to case that global warming had stopped.
When we check out newspapers, we often think the human being writing the articles are experts. In fact, the journalist that wrote the post to go v this picture (David Rose) just didn’t understand what the graph was informing him. The made 2 errors:The graph is reflecting air temperatures. This is a an extremely poor measure of an international warming as lot of the warm ends up in the oceans.This is a an extremely short hatchet graph. You can’t make an excellent predictions based on a little data. If you victory the very first scratch-off lottery ticket friend buy, it doesn’t typical that your possibilities of winning are 100%. You would need to buy (and scratch-off) dozens or even hundreds of tickets to truly view a trend. A better graph for an international warming would show the trend due to the fact that the commercial revolution.

College no Worth her Time and also Money!

How around this chart that “proves” the college education just isn’t worth the money any more?

The scale on this chart is fine. What Business Insider deduced native the graph is not. Have actually we “…lost the ubiquitous positive financial return top top education”? No. David Blake read the chart without taking into account a key fact that wasn’t on the chart: the price of not walking to university has reduced even more. Than means, her prospects together a high school graduate space a lot of worse 보다 your prospects as a university graduate.

Another vital piece of information is ~ above the graph itself. Note the median yearly income a college grad can expect is about $45,000 in 2010. That’s per year. Over an mean working life time (say, 43 year assuming retirement at age 65), that offers you an earnings of $45,000 * 43 = $1,935,000. Subtract that expensive college education and learning ($95,000) and also your net earnings are $1,840,000. Compare that to your mean high college grad. They can expect to knife $1,300,000 end their lifetime (Source: The U.S. Room of Education). That’s quite a difference!

The moral of the tale? Be mindful when make the efforts to review a chart about a topic you aren’t an skilled in!

Wii is Floundering!

Everyone deserve to be an experienced in gaming systems, right? after all, what’s over there to know? exactly how to placed a disk into the console? just how to hold a controller? just how to fire a weapon? This graph indigenous 2009 showed just how a dismal 6% the Wii owners actually supplied their Wii:

Lee Evans, in his Downwards Compatible article “Adventures in Misleading Graphs” put it best:

Take a look in ~ the peak number top top the graph. Just 11% of 360 owners actively use your 360 and also only 10% that PS3 owners proactively use their PS3. Now, let’s execute a small math.

There are 50 million Wii owners. 6% of the number is 3 million.

There space 30 million 360 owners. 11% of the number is 3.3 million.

There room 20 million PS3 owners. 10% of the number is 2 million.

In various other words, nearly the same amount across the board usage their device regularly. The space in percentages is no that great, yet the graph (and the way people are reading it) provides it look like “OMG A HUEGE GAP!”

Misleading Graphs: Numbers the Don’t include up

Palin because that Pres!

Apparently 70% of human being backed Palin in the 2012 presidential run. Yet wait! The Fox News statisticians have been at it again. A pie chart should include up come 100%. Not this one:


Misleading Graphs: two Y-Axes

Job and also health insurance casualty accelerating!

Image: The Wonk Room.

At first glance, that looks clear that statement is true. However take a look at the graph and you’ll check out two y-axes. This special form of data manipulation goes beyond the classic methods to deceive. What’s in reality going on right here (skipping the math part) is that if you extract the data indigenous this confuddling chaos of a graph you get:Lack of insurance money is increasing very slightly (from ~15 percent come ~16 percent).Unemployment increases more rapidly (from ~4.5 percent to 7.5 percent).

And the Winner in the Misleading Graphs category is…

The award for in the misleading graphs in actual life group goes to (drum roll please…) Fox News for this gem:

What’s the genuine data behind this shocking graph? space there really an ext people ~ above welfare 보다 those who have full-time jobs? together Media matters points out:

“Fox’s 108.6 million figure for the number of “people on welfare” comes from a Census Bureau’s account…of joining in means-tested programs, which incorporate “anyone resident in a household in i m sorry one or much more people got benefits” in the fourth quarter that 2011, hence including individuals who did not themselves receive government benefits. Top top the various other hand, the “people with a full time job” number Fox used included only people who worked, not people residing in a family members where at the very least one person works.”

In various other words, if girlfriend live through your Mom, Dad, brothers Joe and also cousin Sam, and Sam was (briefly) ~ above some sort of welfare program, the counted against you and everyone in your household.


Huff, D. (1993). Exactly how to Lie with Statistics. W. W. Norton & CompanyGonick, L. (1993). The Cartoon guide to Statistics. HarperPerennial.

See more: Brooke And Dave Whipple - Brooke Whipple (@Girlinthewoodz)

CITE THIS AS:Stephanie Glen. "Misleading Graphs: actual Life Examples" from inter-base.net: elementary Statistics for the rest of us! https://www.inter-base.net/probability-and-statistics/descriptive-statistics/misleading-graphs/

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