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The war on infographics

Mcardle_infogrinfographicMegan McArdle (The Atlantic) is starting a war on the infographics plague. (Here, infographics means infographics posters.)  Excellent debunking, and absorbing reading.

It's a long post. Her overriding complaint is that designers of these posters do not verify their data. The "information" shown on these charts is frequently inaccurate, and the interpretation is sloppy.

In the Trifecta checkup framework, this data deficiency breaks the link between the intent of the graphic and the (inappropriate) data being displayed. (Most infographics posters also fail to find the right chart type for the data being displayed.)

While I have often raised similar complaints in the past -- and my current stance is link to good infographics posters only (which explains their scarcity on this blog), one of the significant contributions of the infographics "plague" is the status-hiking of the story-telling perogative. Unfortunately, this plague is yet another case of elevating stories above the data, which (to a lesser extent) is a complaint that Andrew Gelman and I shared about the "Freakonomics" trend. (See here, and Andrew's further comments.)

This doesn't stop McArdle from adding her own contribution to the infographics plague... the poster shown on the right.

Do yourself a favor and read her post in full. Link here.


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As I've said earlier, infographic should be written as "info"GRAPHIC. Then it would be a word that says what it means.

Andy Kriebel

You might be interested in my scathing review of a recent David McCandless infogrpahic.


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