November 08, 2003

Most dishonest graphic ever

I was just reading the Register-Mail and happened across what I believe to be the most dishonest statistical graph that I've ever seen. The article was an AP feed on the abortion ban, and the graphic was also from the AP, showing what percentage of abortions occur in various weeks of the pregnancy.

To represent these percentages, it has a black bar at the y-value corresponding to the percent, and the black bar extends horizontally over the weeks it's covering. The problem is, different bars have different widths, so that the first six weeks are taken in aggregate (21.7%), then week 7 has about 17% by itself, week 8 about 19% by itself, week 9 and 10 taken together about 20%, 11 and 12 10%, 13-15 6%, 16-21 just under 5%, and weeks 22 on about 1.5% total. I'm not actually sure which bias it represents, either, since it makes it look like more abortions happen in the first couple of weeks than actually do, but also that more happen in the last trimester than actually do. But in any case, it simply took my breath away how awful this graphic was.

"For the record, I question the logic of [anonymity] merged with "hey, let's tell all our IMSA friends on the notesfiles". The IMSA community's secret-keeping prowess is best likened to the 'Rizzo's pregnant' scene from "Grease"." --Joe Shidle

Posted by blahedo at 11:03am on 8 Nov 2003
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