Saturday, January 8, 2011

Distortions of Graphic Proportions

View the graph to the left. Do you see how slowly the spending is rising?
View the graph below it. Do you see how quickly the spending is rising?

Actually, in each instance, spending is rising by 100,000 dollars per year.

However, the percentage changes. It increases by 100% then by 50% then by 33.34%.

With each subsequent year, the percentage decreases.

When we watch television, regardless of which network or cable station we watch, those on either side of the issue use the same tools to distort the picture.

If spending decreases from $100,000,000 to $80,000,000 the cut is 20%. However, if the spending increases, from $80,000,000 to $100,000,000 the increase is 25%. Either way, we are talking about $20,000,000.

When Joe six-pack opens a bottle of Blue Ribbon beer and begins reading the Post, he sees that spending is rising modestly as evidenced by the bright red graph.

Across town, Bill six-pack opens up a bottle of Blue Ribbon beertm and begins reading the News. He sees that spending is sky-rocketing as evidenced by the bright red graph.

When they watch television, each watches a different cable station. However, each host has invited someone from the left and someone from the right. Each hears half the truth from one guest and half the truth from the other guest.

A message to the illustrious members of our most august fourth estate:

It behooves you to print both charts, with numbers, with percentages,
to show that both graphs show the same information.

Further, it is important to demonstrate that a 20% cut of $100,000,000 and an increase of 25% of $80,000,000 both involve $20,000,000.

As long as spin doctors engage in linguistic legerdemain, mathematical manipulations, and distortions of graphic proportions, the country will not only remain but become increasingly polarized.




Copyright (c) 2011 Slim Fairview

* "Blue Ribbon Beer" is a registered trademark. No solicitation was made and no compensation was received for this reference.