Bad 3D Pie Chart Alert! By Scientific American no less!

August 5, 2011
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Well, this is a stunning piece of poor quality work by a respected magazine! I’m not sure if I can even list all of the ways in which it skews and misrepresents the data.

Well, this is a stunning piece of poor quality work by a respected magazine! I’m not sure if I can even list all of the ways in which it skews and misrepresents the data.

Let’s start with the plain fact that it’s in 3D which means the slices of the pie bear no relation to the numbers they are intended to represent. Add to that, the depth dimension (the red/brown section) which isn’t noticeable until you read the legend and by some strange chance see the extra label. Then, we’ve got pies arrows pointing in all different directions so the location of each pie actually has little relation to where they are placed on the map. Top things off with some horrible colour choices which follow no traditional conventions other than being the author’s favourite colours or matching the theme of the issue that month. Sure, I like pink, but really?

Chart at your own risk, but watch out for the pie chart nazis. Bad charts WILL be caught!