Monday, April 21, 2014

Misleading Inverted Time Series

Here is a graphic published by Reuters that has been making the rounds on the web, here and here. It depicts the number of gun deaths in Florida. On first glance it appears that gun deaths had dropped just after 2005 when Florida enacted its 'Stand Your Ground' law. The trouble is, the vertical scale is inverted: higher numbers are lower on the graph not higher. The post on the Business Insider showed the graph presented in a more standard way: higher numbers are plotted higher on the graph.
Its much clearer in this graph that gun deaths in Florida increased after 2005 and the enactment of the 'Stand Your Ground' law. So why produce a graphic that is so counter to common expectations and understanding? Politics? Point of View? Artistic Vision? or as the artist says, "Personal Preference"!

The designer is Christine Chan. She says her inspiration was based on this graph from the South China Morning Post titled "Iraq's Bloody Tool" plotting deaths as dripping blood. Artistic choice or not, this approach is misleading.

1 comment:

CR Valeriann said...

Absolutely misleading. The decision to represent the data in a non-standard format points to intent and not naivete. Thoughts?