Tag Archives: infographic

Dissecting an Infographic

This morning I woke up, made a cup of coffee, picked up my tablet, and took a quick look at Twitter. The following was in my twitter feed via retweet:



Huh, that's interesting. We do often see media blowing things out of proportion. See: Ebola in the United States panic this fall. I was about to move on before I noticed the scale on the upper left.

2014 had less than 500 deaths? That can't be. The two Malaysian Air lines planes that went down this summer (one shot down and one lost entirely) had to have accounted for more than 500 deaths just together. They had no survivors.

Then I noticed the lower right corner.


So I get things getting safer year over year, but there is no way that 2014 actually had an order of magnitude drop in crashes in one year. 10% decrease seems plausible, but not 80% drop.

That's because this infographic is from March (which makes a ton more sense). It's publication date is March 10, so we're really looking at 1/6 of a year at best in that final bar.screenshot_142


Note: the original author completely refuses to acknowledge he was wrong over the course of the twitter thread. Self denial is amazing.

This CNN article from right after the Ukrainian flight was lost on CNN accounts for 761 deaths so far as of end of July.

This year is still going to end up with less deaths than most years, it will look more like the early 2000s, and less like 2013. Not the worst year on record, but definitely not the safest either.

Fast food statistical lies

Rafe over at rc3.org provides a very important bit of fact checking to the fast food infographic that is circulating.  I thought 3800 seemed really high, but I didn't bother with digging deeper.  He did.  I'm coopting his post in it's entirety (it's short) for those who aren't reading his blog.

I’ve seen a number of links to the Everything You Need to Know About Fast Food infographic, which is chock full of interesting statistics, not all of which I’m entirely sure are accurate. It lists the average caloric intake for Americans as 3,760 calories, but I am pretty sure that is impossible.

This statistic comes from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, but unfortunately the link is dead. Other sources report that the average caloric consumption for men in the US is around 2,618 calories for men and 1,877 calories for women — significantly less. A little back of the envelope math shows that the number cited in the infographic is impossible. The average height of men in the US is 5′ 9.5″ and the average weight is 191 pounds. The resting metabolic rate for 25 year old men of average height and weight is about 1900 calories. If you eat only 100 more calories a day than you expend, you’ll gain 10 pounds per year.

I’ve seen this number being repeated a lot, and I wanted to point out that there’s absolutely no way it’s correct. I haven’t seen the original source data, so maybe it’s a valid statistic that’s being misused, but in the context people are using it, it’s wrong.