Companies and businesses often make charts and graphs to deliberately mislead people. Often, the scale of a graph would be changed to show, or not show difference between certain figures. Here, we will demonstrate common examples of misleading diagrams.
Changing the Scale Here, a student was asked to change a graph so that it seemed like all they did was sleep and go to school. Here, she changed the scale so that it started not at 0, but at 3. Also, the distance between each interval are not the same. This misleads the observer to think: “ OMG, all she does is sleep and go to school”.
Here, is a non-misleading version of the graph. The scale starts at 0, and all the distances between the intervals are the same. This gives the observer a more unbiased view of the information.
Changing the Perspective This pie chart is shown in 3-D. Changing the perspective of view can easily deceive the human eye. Here, the Europe ‘slice’ looks bigger than the actual size. Alternatively, the Canada ‘slice’ looks smaller than the 2-D version. Also, as the US ‘slice’ is closer to the viewer in the 3-D chart, it seems to appear more dominant.
Cutting the Scale In this bar chart, it seems that there is a great difference between the three variables. However, when you look closely, the difference between the numbers are 8. Although this is not a very large difference, the chart makes is look like Democrats have many more votes than the other 2 groups. Here, on a unbiased graph, the scale starts from 10, and goes up by the same number every time. This makes the distribution of data fair and even.
Bad Labeling This is the mother of all bad graphs. The labeling on top of each bar implies the increase of foreign-born population from the previous decade. But to the average viewer, one could easily mistaken the bar to the amount shown on the label.
Increasing volume Here, the ‘Farm Cheese’ cuboid on the left represents 100 sales. However, the cuboid on the left is twice as high, therefore representing 200 sales. However, the second cuboid looks much larger in volume and depth, hence deceiving the viewer, as the larger cuboid looks like it could fit 4 or more of the smaller cuboid. Farm Cheese Farm Cheese