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3 questions to ask yourself next time you see a graph, chart or map
by Carson MacPherson-Krutsky
Posted October 7, 2021

 White House Coronavirus Task Force members reference a misleading chart in a press briefing

White House Coronavirus Task Force members reference a misleading chart in a press briefing

Since the days of painting on cave walls, people have been representing information through figures and images. Nowadays, data visualization experts know that presenting information visually helps people better understand complicated data. The problem is that data visualizations can also leave you with the wrong idea – whether the images are sloppily made or intentionally misleading.

As a researcher of hazard and risk communication, I think a lot about how people interpret the charts, graphs and maps they encounter daily.

Whether they show COVID-19 cases, global warming trends, high-risk tsunami zones, or utility usage, being able to correctly assess and interpret figures allows you to make informed decisions. Unfortunately, not all figures are created equal.

If you can spot a figure’s pitfalls you can avoid the bad ones. Consider the following three key questions the next time you see a graph, map or other data visual so you can confidently decide what to do with that new nugget of information. More…