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Improving the display of graphical data


Walsingham

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I have been reading reporst today, all of which include bar charts, and was reminded of the way in which teh scale of a chart can exaggerate or minimise the relative strengths of differences in the data.

 

That is, if you chart, say, horse weights where the horses are all between 270 and 300 kgs, with the maximum being 300 then that will make the heaviest look much heavier than if you took the chart against a maximum theoretic weight for a horse - say 600kgs.

 

It made me stop and wonder if there was some better system of presenting data. A convention, which might reduce the potential for misrepresentation. Maybe something based off standard deviation within the data plus some additional relative constant?

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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Isn't that what chart are supposed to do?

They are supposed to present the information in comparison to signify the status of A. (horse weight) Like let's say that you are doing a study on the horse's weight in the last 5 years. You find out that there is a rise in weight, so you present your finding to your boss and do a bar chart. Because a pie chart wouldn't quite represent the rise.

If you are looking for accuracy, sticking with numbers might be your best idea.

I'd say the answer to that question is kind of like the answer to "who's the sucker in this poker game?"*

 

*If you can't tell, it's you. ;)

village_idiot.gif

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Isn't that what chart are supposed to do?

They are supposed to present the information in comparison to signify the status of A. (horse weight) Like let's say that you are doing a study on the horse's weight in the last 5 years. You find out that there is a rise in weight, so you present your finding to your boss and do a bar chart. Because a pie chart wouldn't quite represent the rise.

If you are looking for accuracy, sticking with numbers might be your best idea.

 

You're missing my point, old son. The fact is that most senior people, and most members of the public look at the graph, not the numbers. Which makes the use of scale critical to the meaning of the information imparted, at least at the surface level.

 

I'm intertested in setting some standard metric for scaling. Could be cool.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

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