# Don't be fooled: 5 ways to spot a misleading or careless graph.

## Numbers don't lie, but graphs can.

You're reading an article, perusing an ad, or watching the news when you spot a kickass chart or infographic. Finally, a way to share information that's impermeable to opinions and falsehoods, right? Well, not exactly.

## That's why, in the era of bogus news sites, information dissection is more important than ever.

Graphs and data visualizations are easier to make than ever before, so there's nothing stopping anyone from using accurate facts and figures in an irresponsible or dishonest way.

In her animated lesson for TED-Ed, Lea Gaslowitz breaks down how to catch a misleading graph before it catches you.

## 1. Scale: That Y-axis is really important.

This is a graph showing truck reliability. At first glance, it appears Chevy crushes the competition hands down.

However, this graph uses the same data, but with a scale from 0% to 100% instead of 95% to 100%.

Like Drake, this graph goes from 0 to 100, real quick. GIF via TED-Ed/YouTube.

"This is one of the most common ways graphs misrepresent data," Gaslowitz said. "It's especially misleading with bar graphs, since we assume the size of the bars is proportional to the values."

The X-axis is important too, and Gaslowitz cautions it can be manipulated just as easily.

## 2. Ask yourself: What does the visualization actually show, and does it make any sense?

The economic cost of mass incarceration is more than \$1 trillion dollars. This chart, explores how many prison cells it would take to store \$1 trillion in cash. Volume is not a very useful measure in this case, but it's presented in bold, block letters as if it's vital information. Don't be fooled by typography or because they showed their work.

Image via WTFviz/Tumblr.

## 3. Cherry-picking: Great for fruit pies, less so for graphs and charts.

When a group or individual uses a graph to make a point, they may pick and choose which information to include. It's called cherry-picking, and it can lead to wholly inaccurate charts.

The graph from the National Weather Service makes it look like 2015 had the second highest number of consecutive days without rain. It didn't. The second longest streak was 62 days in 1984. But this graph only shows the record year and the past five years for comparison. That's not to say it intended to deceive, but that's a consequence of limiting the data.

## 4. In life and in graphs, you can't ignore context.

Gaslowitz shared two graphs on ocean temperature. The first showed the changes in temperature over time, but that doesn't capture the full story because even a half-degree rise can have a major effect.

Showing the increase or decrease in ocean temperature by the amount of increase is a more appropriate context.

## 5. Go straight to the source, and look at it right in its source eyes.

Take a look at where you're getting the information from. Is it a trusted, reliable news source with fact-checkers and editorial standards? Is it an advertisement or paid study? The source matters. If you're unsure, try to find the data somewhere else to double check, especially before you share it.

Family

## Macy's pulls plates from their stores for sending a 'toxic message'

Alie Ward

Your dinner plate shouldn't shame you for eating off of it. But that's exactly what a set being sold at Macy's did.

The retailer has since removed the dinnerware from their concept shop, Story, after facing social media backlash for the "toxic message" they were sending.

The plates, made by Pourtions, have circles on them to indicate what a proper portion should look like, along with "helpful â€” and hilarious â€” visual cues" to keep people from "overindulging."

There are serval different styles, with one version labeling the largest portion as "mom jeans," the medium portion as "favorite jeans," and the smallest portion as "skinny jeans."

Well Being

## After a woman was shamed by her nurse over her sexual history, she shared her story to help protect other vulnerable women.

In today's installment of the perils of being a woman, a 21-year-old woman shared her experience being "slut-shamed" by her nurse practitioner during a visit to urgent care for an STD check.

The woman recently had sex with someone she had only just met, and it was her first time hooking up with someone she had not "developed deep connections with."

Well Being
Culture

popular

Planet

## Florida city forecloses on man's home after fining him \$30,000 for not mowing his lawn.

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn â€“ and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

# France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a \$29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Cities

## The world can't get enough Michelle.

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copiesâ€”a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.