Book review: The Truthful Art by Alberto Cairo, and the Enduring Problem of Statistical Illiteracy
The surprising impact of mixing chart forms

Batmen not as interesting as it seems

When this post appears, I will be on my way to Seattle. Maybe I will meet some of you there. You can still register here.

I held onto this tip from a reader for a while. I think it came from Twitter:

20160326_woc432_1 batman

The Economist found a fun topic but what's up with the axis not starting at zero?

The height x weight gimmick seems cool but on second thought, weight is not the same as girth so it doesn't make much sense!

In the re-design, I use bubbles to indicate weight and vertical location to indicate height. The data aren't as interesting as one might think. All the actors pretty much stayed true to the comic-book ideal, with Adam West being the closest. I also changed the order of the actors.


I left out the Lego, as it creates a design challenge that does not justify the effort.




Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


The Economist has a real a problem with this. I remember seeing this graphic last year with a truncated axis:

Does the axis starting at 0 rule only apply to American charts and not English charts? Or does the Economist just not care?

Joe Crawford

Also leaves out the Batman serials.

James Bellitto

I agree with the width problem, understanding where weight comes into play in the original graph seems misleading.

Hannah S

I think having the figures be batmen is misleading. Also the width of the various batmen is confusing in how it relates to the weight.

Jeffrey Leung

An x-axis scale would be helpful on the first chart.


The weights and the widths in cm put together on the x-axis is confusing


In the first graph it is unclear whether the height is marked by the shoulders, face or top of the batman ears. A way to make the graph clearer to make the legend at the top clearer.

Edward Johnson

The width does seem to represent a challenge when there aren't any values on the x-axis.

Alice M

I agree that the weight is not representative of girth, so the graph is slightly confusing. This representation of weight also makes it difficult to quickly compare the weights of each actor and the relation to the heights of the actors.


It's hard to judge the heights because it is unclear if the graphed height goes to the top of the ears or the head or the shoulders. Also, it would be useful to have labels on the x-axis.

Tyler Shanahan

How weight is represented in the graph should be changed because it is confusing and misleading at the moment.

Kate P.

The fact that Lego Batman is not to scale defeats the whole purpose of having a visual representation of weight and height. Also, in the second graph it is unclear whether height is measured from the center of the bubble or elsewhere. This could be clarified.


The bubble graph makes it difficult to see the different weights. I prefer the first graph that allows you to visualize the weights and heights as you would on Batmans standing next to each other, although it is not to scale.


I think the bubble idea is interesting, and i had not thought of it before, but I do think it is difficult to see the different size of the bubbles. On the original chart, I agree that the axis should start at 0, and it is difficult to determine the difference in weights.

Thomas H.

Personally, I prefer the actors being organized by the period of time they played the role, rather than based on x and y, mostly because it shows the distinctions and transitions between the actors. There are merits to both forms, though.

Isabelle Knowles

I agree that starting scales are a bit misleading as well as confusing. Also the initial weight x height graph can be misleading with how that represents the different actors. The rendition is less confusing but still not clear how the weight factors in.


Are the sizes of the bubbles on the second graph supposed to represent weight? It's hard to tell what the weights are because the horizontal axis has been replaced with names and dates.

damien s

the problem with both charts is that neither conveys how tall the figure actually is; the original chart would have you think michael keaton is 5'3" and affleck is 6'6", when in reality they are separated by just 15 cm or 6 in., and the edited version gives no real frame of reference. the ideal solution would be to keep the original chart but start the height axis at 0.


The second is unclear in that the weights of the Batmans are very indiscernible and hard to compare.


From my understanding, the bubble size shows the weight. If that's so, I think that's a horrible change because 1. I don't know the size of bubble per kg and 2. The difference in size relative to each other is far to difficult to tell just by looking at it.


The second graph indicates that both weight and height are displayed in the data, but looking at just the graph there is no numerical values attached to the weight so there no way to tell how much each Batman weighed. I would just plot the height and weight using the x and y axis and label each point with the name of the actor.

The comments to this entry are closed.