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Another problem with this graph is the the choice of units determines the graphic point.
Cloth diapers look bad because the green line is so much longer than the other lines. But the green line is gallons of water -- so the units are, obviously GALLONS. These are compared with MEGAJOULES and POUNDS. Can these units be meaningfully compared? Not by me, at least.


At least the original racetrack graph you mention was based on values that are percentages of a whole. This graph seems to make the length of the green line completely arbitrary.


zbicyclist: and it's so unnecessary. There are three racetracks in three categories, so not a thing would have been lost in presenting one racetrack each for water, solid waste, and energy, with the compared values being disposables, cloth homewashed, and cloth service washed.

To summarize: it didn't have to be a graph, a table would have done as well; it didn't have to be a racetrack, a bar graph would have been better; and it didn't have to be those racetracks, a switch of categories would have been better.

What an execrable choice of graphic.

Robert Kosara

I completely agree with derek, they obviously only did this to make something that would look good. But charts can be good and entertaining, see e.g. these ones from Princeton. While there are some problems (e.g., scaling images in both directions at once, thus creating an effect that grows with the square of the number), they are informative and fun. Are they biased? Sure, but that's their whole point.

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Kaiser Fung. Business analytics and data visualization expert. Author and Speaker.
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