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Misleading Graphs

Graphs are extremely powerful tools for displaying large quantities of complex data in statistics. Let's talk about graphs. What do you understand by the word graph? Data that is represented in the form of the picture is known as a graph. It is necessary that a graph must be accurate so that it conveys the information appropriately. But, there are graphs which sometimes mislead the readers. Precisely graphs that do not have the correct data and information are known as Misleading graphs.

More specifically, the graph which have misrepresented the data contained in it or constitutes the misuse of statistical methods, is termed as a Misleading graph or a distorted graph. A misleading graph may result in an incorrect result and faulty interpretation from it. The main reason behind the graphs to be misleading may be its being very complex or constructed poorly.

At times, the misleading graphs are constructed intentionally in order to hinder the accurate analysis of data. But it is generally created accidentally due to mistakes in creating graphs or reading the number from given data set. It may also be created due to less knowledge about software used in graphing. Let us understand how to identify misleading graphs and their examples.

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How to Identify Misleading Graphs?

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Usually, a graph with an unbiased title and regular intervals can be a more accurate graph. While looking at graphs pay attention and check whether the graph is starting with 0 and check whether the graph represents accurately the data to be represented.

Also note that graphs can mislead when the margin error is in percentage points. There can be variation in data with huge error in margins.

There are a few rules to identify Misleading graphs. They are

  • Uneven scale. The scale does not start from Zero.

  • No Heading and explanation for the graph

For example, let's have a look at the below graph.

Misleading Graphs

In the above graph, the gap between 0 and 9000 is equal to the gap between 9000 and 9500. Hence this is a misleading graph.

Misleading Statistical Graphs

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A graph is misleading graph when it provides only part of the information, or displays comparisons that are not based on all of the information. Such type of graph often create confusions in the mind of user.

Graphs are of different types.

  • Line graphs
  • Bar Graphs
  • Pictographs
  • Pie Charts

We discuss in detail about each of it.

  • Line Graph: It is used to compare data easily. It is the most popular type of graph.

Line Graph

  • Bar Graph: It compares data in the form of rectangular bars.

Bar Graph

Pictographs: They use small pictures to compare information and are mostly used in media.

    Pictograph

Pie charts: It is simple to understand and is represented in a circle split into parts.

Pie Chart

Misleading Graphs Examples

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Let us see some example problems on misleading graphs:

Solved Examples

Question 1:

Determine whether it is misleading graph or not.

Month

Sales rate of cups

Jan

250

Feb

200

Mar

150

Apr

100

May

250


Solution:

The data table illustrates months and the sales rate of cups illustrated through the line graph. The months are demonstrated in x-axis and the sales rate of cups is demonstrated in y-axis.
Examples on Misleading Graphs

Steps:

  1. The vertical axis in the graph is normally begins from 0 and the scale should be uniform.
  2. Vertical scale begins from 0 rather than 300.
  3. This problem is demonstrated that sales rate of cups with the identical difference.
  4. So, the given line graph is misleading.


Question 2:

Determine whether it is misleading graph or not.

Month

Weight

Jan

32

Feb

35

Mar

33

Apr

34

May

31

Jun

32


Solution:

The data table illustrates the months and the weight and it's exhibited through the line graph. The months are illustrated in x-axis and the weight is illustrated in y-axis.

Examples of Misleading Graphs

Steps:

  1. Line graph illustrates the vertical axis usually begins from 29 and the scale should be uniform.
  2. The vertical scale starts from 29 rather than zero.
  3. There is no submission that the line graph is broken.
  4. So, the given graph is misleading.


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