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TJ Ronningen

I agree that the chart does not meet the self-sufficiency principle, but I don't agree with your interpretation that the scale is distorted. Showing the full center heart is not a problem. All of the hearts are half-overlapped, the side of the overlap just changes in the center.

In your final illustration, the index for each heart should fall at the center of the heart. Then the graph properly represents six. For your area illustration to work, each bar would have to be overlapped with the subsequent bar. I believe this is only a consequence of using a finite area icon to represent an infinitesimal point. The icons are particularly large, in this case, but it's not possible to avoid this problem in any graph that uses points instead of lines. The thickness of the point will extend beyond the value represented.

Let me know if I've missed your point.


TJ: Think of it this way, what they created is a bar chart. What readers perceive is the length of the bar. What I'm arguing is that the length of the bar is not proportional to the data presented because of the full heart.
If I read you correctly, you suggest that the two half-hearts at the front and the end of the bar can be ignored. But really you can't because adding two half-hearts to a bar of length 1 is very different from adding two half-hearts to a bar of length 100. Am I making sense?


Let's just agree that it's a half-hearted attempt at clever.

TJ Ronningen

Thanks for your response. I do see what you are getting at, and I don't disagree with you. If the chart is perceived as a bar chart, which people are apt to do and perhaps even what the author intended, the graphics are not proportioned correctly. The author's choice to use such large icons, in representing such small counts, definitely distorts the perspective.

Rick Wicklin

While we're critiqueing the chart, why not order the response categories? It's presented in the order that the questions appeared in the poll, but ordering by number of votes makes more sense.

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