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Lying with Statistics and Charts

image loading... by Bo Bennett, PhD, Social Scientist, Business Consutlant
posted Friday May 24, 2013 12:00 AM

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Bo Bennett, PhD

Social Scientist, Business Consutlant

About Bo Bennett, PhD

You can read my full bio at http://www.BoBennett.com.

Beware of deceptive statistics and charts. People love charts and graphs—the problem is that it is so easy to misrepresent data both visually and numerically. Unless you really think about what is going on, you might just buy into a lie.

Here are two bar graphs that represent my increasing awesomeness. The first chart makes it appear that 2012 represented significant growth in my awesomeness, yet the second chart uses the same data and makes it appear my awesomeness has barely changed. What's going on? The trick here is manipulating the values on the vertical axis. An "honest" bar graph will start at 0 and end at a value close to the greatest data point.

In actuality, there might be more like 1 person that thinks I am awesome in 2011 (myself included) and maybe 2 in 2012. If that were the case, I can boast a 100% increase in awesomeness, and if I were being deceitful, I would just advertise that percentage and hide the actual numbers involved.


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Bo Bennett, PhD
Founder and Developer of http://www.YourWebEmpire.com — A modular, web-based platform designed to quickly and easily create multiple attractive and highly-functional web properties.

The Dr. Bo Show > http://www.TheDrBoShow.com
About Me > http://www.bobennett.com
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