As the saying goes, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. This phrase, popularized by Mark Twain over a century ago, is perhaps more relevant today than ever before. The importance of creating transparent, professional data visualizations has never been greater, but equally important is the data consumers’ ability to critically evaluate the data that’s being put out into the world.
We recently came across this very helpful guide on how to spot deceptive (or just plain lazy) data visualizations from the excellent website Flowing Data. The article highlights nine all-too-frequent ways in which data visualizations can be misleading or downright deceptive.
The enlightened consumer of data visualizations would do well to stay vigilant against these harmful practices!