The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

15 February 2004

The vertical fudge factor

Figures lie, and liars figure, and sometimes you get the worst of both worlds: take a look at this graph of US casualties in Iraq.

I haven't checked the actual numbers, but even if they're absolutely correct, there's a blatant bias in the way the graph is designed: unless some of these deaths are somehow reversed — something not seen in the Middle East for around 1,970 years, and then only once — the curve can never go down. At best, there will be some sort of plateau of finite duration; otherwise, it keeps going up and up.

Which, of course, is what the designer intended, with the hope that you will assume from the shape of the curve that things are getting worse and worse in Iraq.

Ten years from now, we'll probably see this guy day-trading in the bond market.

Posted at 1:22 PM to Political Science Fiction


Uh, twice, Charles. Lazarus and Christ. Otherwise, d'accord!

Posted by: Francis W. Porretto at 2:19 PM on 15 February 2004

Except that Lazarus eventually died again.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:34 PM on 15 February 2004

In the designer's defense (and, indirectly, my own for having posted it), I believe the intention was to present it as a timeline. I agree that the graph-type depiction may possibly have been confusing, but I think it stands on it's own merits.

Posted by: Jack Cluth at 10:19 AM on 16 February 2004

Well, the numbers are there, they're worthy of consideration — it's just that the presentation was horribly skewed. It would have worked better as a timeline, yes.

Posted by: CGHill at 11:40 AM on 16 February 2004