Death and Destruction: The Infographic

I am rather notoriously skeptical of infographics, but I found this one from Wait But Why today and it’s completely fascinating. It’s a comparison of how many people die/have died by various causes, some natural, some not so natural.

The whole thing is huge, but here’s a taste:

Deathtoll

I’ve been perusing this for about half an hour now, and I’ve learned about the Masada suicides, the Shensi Earthquake, and the Mao Era in China. It’s not a definitive list, but a really interesting one!

St Patricks Day Infographic

Welcome to Grade the Infographic, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: I take an infographic and grade the data in it. I have three criteria I’m looking for in my grading: source of data, accuracy of data and accuracy of visuals. While some design choices annoy me, I’m not a designer, couldn’t do any better, and won’t be commenting unless I think it’s skewing the perception of the information. I’m really only focused with what’s on the graphic, so I also don’t assess stats that maybe should have been included but weren’t.  If you’d like to submit an infographic for grading, go here. If you’d like to protest a grade for yourself or someone else, feel free to do so in the comments or on the feedback page.

Welcome to Grade an Infographic and Happy St Patrick’s Day! I thought I’d go with a bit of a theme this month. A quick look around the web led me to this infographic from the History Channel:

Okay, to start things off, let’s take a look at the references.

MarInfographicpt1

Oof. History Channel, really? Not good. You give me the edition for the Holidays Festivals and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, but not a specific link for information?  Some of those looked slightly useful so I didn’t do a full 10 points off, but not a great start.

MarInfographicpt2

This is one of the problems when big groups put out infographics with no sources. I don’t know where this came from, and now the first 2 pages of google results cite this infographic as a source.

MarInfographicpt3

Okay, not bad. As with any historical figure, these are somewhat in dispute. However, these seem to be the most commonly agreed upon ones.

MarInfographicpt4

So the parade length changed in 2011, and since there’s not a date on this infographic I took half a point off.  By the way….best line from the parade FAQ: “The Parade has not been cancelled due to bad weather. That said, the Parade has marched in a variety of meteorologic conditions that have included various examples of inclemency.”

MarInfographicpt5

So apparently greenchicagoriver.com let its domain registration lapse last year and it’s now a site in a language I don’t read. Still, I found some data here and baby names here. The crowd number discrepancy confused me until I realized the 100,000 is probably an estimate of those who watch the dye go in, and 400,000 is the estimate of those who see it throughout the day.

MarInfographicpt6

These all look about right, based on what’s listed here. Digging a little, it looks like they may be 2011 numbers?

MarInfographicpt7

Okay, and there we go! Based on the Census Bureau table here, this looked about right.

MarInfographicpt8

Overall, a pretty nice effort from the History Channel. The only downside was a lack of useful sources and a lack of a year. With the internet being what it is, ALL infographics should really have a year of creation so people don’t continue to quote things past the dates they are valid. This goes double for large websites that know they get a lot of traffic.

Grading an Education Infographic

Welcome to Grade the Infographic, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. I have three criteria I’m looking for in my grading: source of data, accuracy of data and accuracy of visuals. While some design choices annoy me, I’m not a designer, couldn’t do any better, and won’t be commenting unless I think it’s skewing the perception of the information. I’m really only focused with what’s on the graphic, so I also don’t assess stats that maybe should have been included but weren’t.  If you’d like to submit an infographic for grading, go here. If you’d like to protest a grade for yourself or someone else, feel free to do so in the comments or on the feedback page.

When I first started doing any stats/data blogging, an unexpected thing happened: people started sending me their infographics.  Despite my repeated assertions that I actually hated infographics, companies seemed to troll the web attempting to find people to post their infographics on various topics.  It gets a little weird because they’re frequently not related to my topics, but apparently I’m not the only blogger who has had this problem.  Long story short, I actually got sent this infographic back in 2013. 

Click to enlarge.

Since one of my favorite readers is a teacher (hi Erin!) who also shares my displeasure with infographics, I thought I’d start off by grading this one. It’s pretty long so I chopped it up in to pieces.  Because I’m a petty despot and all, I actually start with the end. Grading the reference section first is a bit backwards, but it gives me an idea of how much work I’m going to have to do to figure out the accuracy of the rest of it.

Pt1

Oooh, not off to a great start.  The maximum grade you can get from me if you don’t give me a source I can track is in the B range. Giving a website is good, but when it’s as big as the National Center for Education Statistics, it’s also nearly useless.

Pt2

Okay, this is good! That’s a decent selection of countries. Not sure if there was a particular reason, but there doesn’t appear to be any cherry picking going on.

Pt3

Hmmm….this got a little funky. I couldn’t actually locate this source data, though I did locate some from the World Bank that backed up the elementary school numbers. I’m guessing this is real data, but saddened they didn’t let me know where they got it! If you do the work, get the credit! Also, the 4 year gap confused me. Where are 2001 – 2004? It doesn’t look like it particularly matters for this trend, so I only subtracted 2 points for not indicating the gap or better spacing the years.

Pt4

This part broke even.  I was hoping for a year (source again!) but did get some good context about what kind of test this was. That was really helpful, so it got an extra point. The data’s all accurate and it’s from 2011.

Pt5

Oooh, now here’s a bit of a snafu. The graphic said “hours spent studying” which surprised me because that’s 3 hours/day for the US kids. When I found the source data (page 114) it turns out those are actually classroom hours. That made more sense. I docked three points because I don’t think that’s what most people mean by “time spent studying”. It’s not totally wrong, but not totally accurate either. Class hours are normally referred to as such. I felt there was a bit of wiggle room on the definition of “study” though, so I didn’t know it down the 5 points I was going to.

Pt6

Oof. That’s not good. Where did these numbers come from? I went to the OECD report to check out the 2010 numbers, and they were WAY off.

Country Infographic 2010 number OECD 2010 number
United States 88.4% 77%
United Kingdom 82.9% 91%
Spain 64.7% 80%
Germany 86.5% 87%
Sweden 91.1% 75%
South Korea 91.1% 92%
Australia 84.8% No numbers

Now graduation rates have lots of different ways of being calculated (mostly due to differences in what counts as “secondary education”, so it’s plausible those numbers came from somewhere. This is the risk you run when you don’t include sources.

Finalgrade

And there you have it.  Cite your sources!

 

Who represents you best?

Another day, another infographic:
Via: TakePart.com

 Sigh. It’s an election year, so I know I’m going to be seeing a lot of these types of things and I should just get over it but…I can’t.

I really dislike this one, because while the data may be good (I haven’t checked it), I think the premise is all wrong and perpetuates faulty ideas.

Congress is a nationally governing body that is split up by state.  Thus, even if Congress was perfectly representative on a state to state basis, it would still very likely not look like the USA as a whole.  

For example, let’s take Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.  According to the census bureau, 51% of this demographic lives in just 3 states:  California, New York and Hawaii. Nine states pull fewer than 1% of their population from this demographic:  Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, West Virginia, North Dakota and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Maine.  4.2% may be the national average, but Hawaii is 58% Asian, and West Virginia is 0.7% Asian.  For one, it would be ethnically representative to have at least half of their reps be Asian every year, for the other it’s statistically unlikely to happen.

If you wanted a really impressive infographic, you’d take each state’s individual ethnic breakdown and cross reference it with how many representatives they had in Congress to figure out what a representative sample should be.  Adding those up would give you the totals for racial diversity when judged on a state level, not a national level.

Of course, that’s only the racial numbers, though the same could apply to the religion questions.  This doesn’t work for the gender disparity…gender ratios are pretty close to 50/50 (Alaska has the highest percentage of men, Mississippi has the lowest).  I think that’s a more complex issue, since you have to take in to account the number of women desiring to run for office (lower than men), and then the counterargument that fewer women want to run because they believe they’re less likely to win or more likely to be crticized.  It’s a tough call how many women there should be to be truly representative since both sides can argue the data.

The income, age, and education numbers I’d argue are all due to the nature of the job.  Campaigning is expensive, and neither Representative nor Senator are not exactly entry level jobs.

As the comments from yesterday’s post showed,  one of the least representative parts of Congress is profession.  Lawyers make up 0.38% of the population, and yet 222 members of Congress have law degrees (38% of the House, 55% of the Senate).  That seems highly unrepresentative right there.

At the end of the day, we vote for people who represent our state, not necessarily our gender, religion or race.  In Massachusetts, our current Senate race is between a 52 year old white male lawyer and a 62 year old white female lawyer. The biggest difference demographically in my eyes?  One has lived in Massachusetts for decades, and the other….lived here long enough to qualify to run.  No one’s going make a pretty picture out of that factor, but it’s pretty important when it comes to getting adequately represented.