• Weird stacked area map thing

    April 16, 2014  |  Ugly Charts

    This chart-map-looking thing from Nightly News is making the rounds, and it's not good. I'm opening the comments below for critique so that you can release your angst. Signed copy of Data Points goes to a randomly selected commenter the end of this week. Have at it.

    Changing face

  • WTF visualizations

    August 30, 2013  |  Ugly Charts

    thumbs up

    There are a lot of poorly conceived graphics that make little sense or do the opposite of what they're supposed to do. You know what I'm talking about. We see them often. You can either (1) get upset and overreact a bit; or (2) you can laugh. The latter is more fun, and that is the premise of the new Tumblr WTF Visualizations. Enjoy.

  • Piemaster

    August 7, 2013  |  Ugly Charts

    Gratuitous piesI'm not entirely sure where this came from, but it's from someone who describes himself as "an innovation leader in delivering analytics." Yep. The 3-D. The layering. The piemaster. [via]

  • What is wrong with these charts?

    July 15, 2013  |  Ugly Charts

    Speaking the world

    Whoa. There are a lot of things wrong with this chart. Gold star for every mistake that you find. And there are many stars to hand out.
    Continue Reading

  • Ridiculous but real charts from the U.S. Congress floor

    November 20, 2012  |  Ugly Charts

    Wheel of fortune chart

    The Floor Charts tumblr shows actual charts used on the United States Congress floor. Some of the paper signs aren't so flashy, but then there are ones like the Republican Wheel of Giveaways used by Edward Markey that leave you wishing you'd thought of it first.

    Remember when Netanyahu used that bomb diagram and we thought it was ridiculous? I guess he was just following the high high standard set by governments around the world.

  • Not enough donut

    October 11, 2012  |  Ugly Charts

    From the October 10 Boston Metro. Oops. [via]

  • World Happiness Report makes statisticians unhappy

    April 25, 2012  |  Ugly Charts

    3d column chart of awesome

    It feels oh so wrong posting about bad charts in a report about happiness around the world, but here you go. I do it for you. The first World Happiness Report was released by the United Nations earlier this month. It's filled with gems like the 3-d bar chart above. Notice the axis that starts at 0.66. (You shouldn't do that because length is the visual cue here, and it makes the differences look greater than they actually are.)
    Continue Reading

  • Pie step comment bubble 3D thing

    January 10, 2012  |  Ugly Charts

    Comment bubble

    This graphic by commenting platform DISQUS, arguing that higher quality online discussions come from those using pseudonyms, splits the percentage of comments by identity into pseudonyms, anonymous, and real names. Is it a bubble chart? A pie? A coincidental bowl of jello? Actually, it looks like the height of each section represents the three values, so it's a misshapened bar chart of sorts. Oi.

    It's trying so hard to look good that it comes across clunky and awkward.

    If anything, they should have focused on the quality signals data on the left. Wouldn't that have been more interesting? Have at it in the comments.

    [DISQUS via @miguelrios]

  • Ugly chart used to confuse readers

    July 29, 2010  |  Ugly Charts

    Confusing health care flowchart

    Charles Blow on this unnecessarily complex chart used to show the network of Obamacare:

    Maybe it's the former graphics/art director in me, but I get really offended when people use charts to confuse rather than to clarify.

    Take a look at this monstrosity released today by the Joint Economic Committee minority, which is led by Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas).

    To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes: they’re using this chart like a drunken man uses lampposts – for support rather than for illumination.

    Really, Joint Economic Committee? Look - I'm not going to pretend I know all the intricacies of the US health care system, but this is clearly chart abuse.

    Looking at this horribly designed piece of propaganda makes me want to throw up. I'm throwing up right now. Dang it. Someone owes me a new keyboard.

  • Challenge: Let’s do something with these 3-D pyramids

    March 12, 2010  |  Ugly Charts


    Here's the idea. The government recommends a diet for healthy living (right pyramid), but at the same time there are billions of dollars of lopsided subsidies (left pyramid) whose distribution doesn't look anything like the former. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) used the above 3-d pyramids to present this information.

    Interesting point. Funky presentation. Discuss (remakes highly recommended).

    [via The Consumerist]

  • Fox News Makes the Best Pie Chart. Ever.

    November 26, 2009  |  Mistaken Data, Ugly Charts

    Fox News pie chart

    What? I don't see anything wrong with it.
    Continue Reading

  • Look at My Neato Lollipop Chart – Widgenie

    August 27, 2008  |  Ugly Charts

    As some commented on an earlier post, FusionCharts provides an easy way for people to hack together statistical graphics - sometimes not so attractively - and put the results on their websites. Widgenie serves as case in point. The concept of the application is all well and good. Upload some data and embed the "interactive" graphic on your blog, website, etc.

    The realization of that idea however, needs some work. Aside from my difficulties logging on, changing my password, and non-flexible data upload, the widgets are, for the most part, just FusionCharts out of the box. Like the lollipop I made (below)?

    [via ReadWriteWeb | Thanks, IA_chrissie]

  • Books that Make You Dumb (Not Really)

    January 26, 2008  |  Ugly Charts


    Virgil Griffith has created a series of graphs called Books that Make You Dumb. He correlates top books on FaceBook by school and the corresponding schools' average SAT scores. Notice Freakonomics is pretty far to the right. Nice.

    The graphs are of course aren't really that statistical nor are they especially beautiful, but hey, just take it for what is it, and it's kind of amusing. Plus, it's a good example of how you can use data from different sources to find something interesting.

  • Watch the Money Clock to See What You’ve Earned

    October 31, 2007  |  Ugly Charts


    Despite being surrounded with ads, this money clock was kind of, um, interesting. Put in how much you earn hourly, monthly, or annually, and it displays a running clock of dollars and cents for how much you've earned while watching the clock. It was amusing at first, and then kind of depressing after a few seconds.

    P.S. Happy Halloween!

  • Find a Replacement for this Ugly Venn Diagram

    October 1, 2007  |  Ugly Charts


    This venn diagram showing results from tests for Autism really seems to be making its rounds lately. It began with Igor Carron asking on his blog if there was a better way to display the data. Then Andrew Gelman put something of a redesign challenge up on his blog, and after Andrew, the challenge headed on over to Junk Charts. Redesigns are flying off the wall! From bar, to mosaic, to tornado charts, there's clearly many ways to represent data.

    Which one is the best? It's hard to say, because they all have advantages and disadvantages and the answer really depends on what point you're trying to drive home.

    However, I can find one advantage that the original venn diagram has over its redesigns -- it's intuitive for many people. John Venn introduced his diagram in 1881, over a century ago. That's a long time for people to adjust. People understand it. It makes sense. Yes, this particular venn is really ugly and probably didn't belong in a Powerpoint presentation, but doesn't it say something that re-designers were able to read it and use the data it provided? I think so.

    So in the spirit of Indexed, here's to you Mr. Venn.

    Venn Diagram Indexed

  • Not so Hot Graphs in Academic Papers

    September 3, 2007  |  Ugly Charts

    Ribbon GraphKarl Broman has an amusing list of the top ten worst graphs found in academic papers.

    One of them, very sadly, was actually from the Journal of the American Statistical Association, a very prominent statistical journal. It just goes to show that some have an eye for data, and others might have an eye for visualization, but one doesn't necessarily lead to the other. Don't forget to read the discussion on why the graphs are um, not so good, so that we can all learn from the mistakes of those before us.

    My personal favorite is the 3-d ribbon graph, because it's just so ugly. Why would anyone use that? Too many shades of gray mixing, too many lines crossing, too many dimensions. Brain overload.

    I guess the graph was made in 1994, so I could cut the authors some slack....

    No, they're just bad. I was making way better graphs in Excel by that time for my seventh grade science fair project -- What Cereal do Red Flour Beatles (Tribolium castaneum) Prefer?

    Look what you've done Microsoft Excel. Apologize for what you've done this very minute.

    Oh, and they preferred Cheerios and stayed away from the Grape Nuts.

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