If it’s in an infographic, it must be true

Making the rounds on Twitter is a hilarious “infographic” by smarter.org and byJess.net, Why Apples Are Better Than Oranges, satirizing half a dozen different ways in which data, statistics, and visualization can be — and often are — thoroughly abused.

As the soft art of marketing has been juxtaposed with the mathematical precision of analytics, fascinating hybrids of evidence and imagination have proliferated — often wrapped in very pretty illustrations.

Want to keep yourself and your company out of the quagmire of publishing — or worse, making decisions on — bogus infojunk? Darrell Huff’s classic How to Lie With Statistics (1954!) is a great primer for avoiding and debunking the common errors of logic and visualization, intentional and unintentional, packaged in this way:

  • correlation does not imply causation
  • avoiding selection bias with truly random sampling
  • visual tricks of scaling that confuse and distort

Or you could read pretty much anything written by Edward Tufte.

Or you could simply grok the different levels of what’s being satirized here (click to go to the original site):

Apples to Oranges.

Infographic by Smarter.org

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