# scale distortion

How to spot a misleading graph (Vol.2)

A toothpaste brand claims their product will destroy more plaque than any product ever made. A politician tells you their plan will create the most jobs. We’re so used to hearing these kinds of exaggerations in advertising and politics that we might not even bat an eye.

But what about when the claim is accompanied by a graph? After all, a graph isn’t an opinion. It represents cold, hard numbers, and who can argue with those? Yet, as it turns out, there are plenty of ways graphs can mislead and outright manipulate. Here are some more things to look out for.

Our last post on reading graphs discussed how bar graphs can be manipulated to mislead you, but the scale can also be distorted along the x-axis, usually in line graphs showing something changing over time. This chart showing the rise in American unemployment from 2008 to 2010 manipulates the x-axis in two ways.

First of all, the scale is inconsistent, compressing the 15-month span after March 2009 to look shorter than the preceding six months. Using more consistent data points gives a different picture with job losses tapering off by the end of 2009. And if you wonder why they were increasing in the first place, the timeline starts immediately after the U.S.’s biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression.

These techniques are known as cherry picking. A time range can be carefully chosen to exclude the impact of a major event right outside it. And picking specific data points can hide important changes in between. Even when there’s nothing wrong with the graph itself, leaving out relevant data can give a misleading impression.

This chart of how many people watch the Super Bowl each year makes it look like the event’s popularity is exploding. But it’s not accounting for population growth. The ratings have actually held steady because while the number of football fans has increased, their share of overall viewership has not.

Finally, a graph can’t tell you much if you don’t know the full significance of what’s being presented. Both of the following graphs use the same ocean temperature data from the National Centers for Environmental Information. So why do they seem to give opposite impressions? The first graph plots the average annual ocean temperature from 1880 to 2016, making the change look insignificant. But in fact, a rise of even half a degree Celsius can cause massive ecological disruption. This is why the second graph, which show the average temperature variation each year, is far more significant.

When they’re used well, graphs can help us intuitively grasp complex data. But as visual software has enabled more usage of graphs throughout all media, it’s also made them easier to use in a careless or dishonest way. So the next time you see a graph, don’t be swayed by the lines and curves. Look at the labels, the numbers, the scale, and the context, and ask what story the picture is trying to tell.

Check out Volume 1!

From the TED-Ed Lesson How to spot a misleading graph - Lea Gaslowitz

Animation by Mark Phillips

5

Buckle

2017

This book exposes the possibilities, practice and longevity of an image.

Using a  printer  and  scanner  as a image reproduction means this duplication method acts as a tool and process system to develop facsimiles of one another – in this case creating new imagery from an existing image. Each spread becomes an image in it’s own right. Through distortion, scale, cropping etc – these techniques provide the image with a new context that is distanced from the original photo. This process of printing, copying and re–purposing, is a method that should be celebrated.

Perhaps this is what we are really up against, as translators and as poets: a distorted scale of values, a denigration of feeling and imagination, a denial of the inner world.
—  Gounil Brown, in her Introduction to Edith Södergran’s Poems

Dragon Hanzo and Dragon Genji in search of new mate and finds s/o in a small villa as a horse rider and finds deep interest in her?

In his many decades of solitude Hanzo had longed for a mate, and with his power and reputation a mate would be easily attainable to at least tend to his carnal desires, but he deprived himself of this for his crimes against his own blood. The first decade he hid in a cave and wallowed in his own guilt and self pity. Unable to maintain a human appearance due to stress he was forced to stay in darkness until his heart would mend. It was only after some time he was able to accept what he had done and was tired of someone of his status acting so pathetic.

When Hanzo is finally able to travel through the human realm he is hit with another whiplash of emotions. The human world had changed so much. The surroundings he was once so familiar with were completely foreign to him. Feeling overwhelmed his human form began to distort. Scales were quick to replace his skin as his natural form began to overwhelm his own power. All too suddenly and without warning Hanzo’s body begins to burn. He recognizes the sensation all too well but it had been so long since he had a mate.

His pupils begin to dilate as he catches sight of the one who had attracted him so. A low rumble rests within his throat, watching you from afar as if he were a predator stalking his prey. He’s unsure if he wants to eat you or have you as his mate but regardless of his fickle desires he will have you.

Despite finding inner peace with himself after hundreds of years Genji still knew he couldn’t get rid of his nature. When he first sensed you he tried to ignore it, remembering how much of his time he had wasted chasing after the skirts and lives of human woman in his youth. However, no matter how hard he tried to ignore your scent he just wasn’t able to resist this time.

Without hesitating any longer Genji flew as fast as he could, scouring through the open sky in search of the human woman that was driving him absolutely mad with lust. It doesn’t take long for him to find a small yet posh villa in the area. Before he can be spotted, Genji quickly flies to the Villa grounds. In his swift descent he sees a girl riding a horse and for a split second the two of you make eye contact. His eyes widen at this and almost as if on instinct he reverts to his human form that he spends far too much time in to be normal among dragons.

You slowly approach the man that had collapsed to the ground with a worried yet cautious approach. You calm your horse down by patting her mane until she settles with a huff. Genji’s face flushes as he gazes at you in all of your beauty. In his hundreds of years traveling through the human realm he had never seen any human nor demon as beautiful as you. In that moment he just knew you had to be his.

Watercolor with gold details titled; “The Unicorn”

8

Siren look I did

cut my leg shaving with one of your razors - a stream of blood made its way down the thigh like molasses on a hot day and coalesced with soapy water painting a scene redolent of a Hitchcock reel. I shaved my skin off entirely and taught the enamel of the bone to worship the ambivalent side of the blade, ripping through the vein and chunks of muscle, bare handed. I was afraid to clog the drain, my darling – it was the first thought that intruded the caucus of fear and consternation invading the mind. My reflection scaled the bathroom mirror, distorted and misaligned by steam and the nausea from the sudden onset of anxiety this prick of neglect conjured and, for the life of me, I could not find a sliver of breath to formulate a scream, taking curtain and rail with me, as I my body lost its ability to stand. Day turned to evening and you were not yet home. I waited, with the breath of small children, but by then I already began to rot. What would the neighbors say of the stench, my darling?

this took me literally all day but i’m proud of it!! the assignment was ‘figure scale distortion’