Bar graph fail

On Twitter, Jack said this:

Good summary of o’seas film production funding. We aren’t giving them money, we’re giving some of their money back.

The link goes to an article by Chaz Harris called Taxpayers don’t pay for movie grants!

This piece insults the “journalism” behind articles like this one from the Sunday Star Times:
Taxpayers fork out big bucks to movie studios

I read that SST article while in holidayland, and while it was rubbish in all the ways Chaz mentions, it was accompanied by a big infographic that amazed me so much I carried it home with me to blog. (Yes, I have a problem. Shush.)

This is the infographic (click to enlargenise):

Have a close look at those horizontal bars. You’ll note that the orange bar denotes “estimated NZ production expenditure” and the red bar “estimated grant”, both in millions of dollars.

Look closer at those numbers, and how they relate to the lengths of the bars. Pick an obvious one, at the top of the second column: Avatar. See how the red bar is half as long as the orange bar? See how the numbers for each are ~72 and ~11?

The proportions are out of whack throughout – the red bars are all about three times as large as they should be. The reds and the oranges are all in scale to other bars of the same colour, but the reds and oranges don’t scale to each other, even though weighting the red against the orange is the whole purpose of the graphic.

This image is credited to this guy, but I am loath to land him with all responsibility. This is an editing fuxxup. Very annoying, particularly because there’s already a lot of nonsense being bandied about on the topic. At the very least get your bloody bar graphs right. They’re not that complicated, really.

Just back from the beach. Maybe someone already wrote about this. If they did I missed it because I was at the beach. It was good. This post excepted, I’m still on holiday from blogging this week. I haven’t even finished going through Jenni’s guest Friday Linky from two weeks ago or re-read the mall ninja stuff from Pearce’s guest the week before. I recommend both sets of linky to those who missed them due to holiday action.

(If anyone wants to volunteer to pull together a last-minute linky for Friday, give me a shout…)