Infographic best practices: learn how math works
What would happen if you put Yogi Berra in charge of making infographics?
There’s a fun one from Ethos3 up at SlideShare.net addressing the importance of nonverbal communication when making presentations. It’s generally pretty helpful, but it also provides us with a lesson in the value of not overreaching.
See if you can spot the problem.
There have been nine presidential elections since 1980 (inclusive). Assuming by Bush they mean GWB instead of his father, this seems to be saying that the candidate who blinked more won every single election except for 44% of them. (And the actual wording is even less certain – it says that Bush and Obama are two exceptions, not that they’re the only two exceptions. As worded, it’s possible that blinkers actually win more.) It’s like somebody put Yogi Berra in charge of the Marketing department.
While the underlying point is certainly a good one – blinking can signal nervousness and even dishonesty – this infographic undercuts its message with a datapoint that tries to pretend the narrowest possible margin over nine trials is somehow definitive proof.
Maybe whoever put this together was assuming that their audience is dominated by folks who take whatever you put in front of them without a lot of thought, and that certainly describes a lot of audiences, I know. But if that is the assumption, it’s cynical and more than a bit depressing. Is it a good thing to assume that your audience is comprised of … okay, let’s go with uncritical readers? If that isn’t what’s going on, then we have to draw some conclusions about the math skills of the infographic architects at Ethos3.
Best practice: don’t overreach.