Pizza St Martin

Monday, March 15th, 2010

He already railed against pies. So did I. With a lot of good reasons. Labels difficult. Area comparisons difficult. And so on. Actually, a pity. Because pie-charts state clearly: That’s all you can share. A Pie-chart claims: I am hundred percent. But you seldom know these.

Great, if a pie-chart does the job after all. Like here. Because it’s a pizza.

How to divide a pizza fair. - Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, No. 21, 2010-01-27, Page 16.
Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, No. 21, 2010–01–27, Page 16. Different ways to share a pizza – green is a fair share, red is unfair. Click to enlarge.

The pizza looks like a chart. But it’s not. The pizza has no topping. Salami, mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese: unimportant. Pizza as close to reality as possible. But no closer. And if you divide a pizza (if I was to slow), you really have to estimate areas.

Who has got pizza, paints pizza. Who has got numbers, shouldn’t paint.

SZ Today

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Apropos competent with media. Leo from the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) got width, height and position. But that doesn’t mean anything. The 100 % value can be at the top middle, bottom middle or in the middle right. No meaning.

SZ, 2009-04-29, p. 31
Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2009–04–29, p. 31. The red dots are labeled with the names of the most important shareholdings of BayernLB (Bank of the state of Bavaria) and with the percentage held by BayernLB. The article suspects that some of them may be sold. Click to enlarge.

Same issue: The annual average temperature is rising, I thought. Not the temperature is rising but each year. Not cold at the bottom but 1901. At the top it’s pretty warm but above all 2008. The temperature is next to the year. But no clue what it was like in other years. This chart stinks.

SZ, 2009-04-29, p. 6
Source: Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2009–04–29, p. 6. On the vertical scale: the 10 warmest years in Germany since 1901, the long-time average is 8.2 degree Celsius. Click to enlarge.

That makes me sad. The journalists of the Süddeutsche Zeitung do a good job. But who believes in good research with such bad drawings?

Frustrated, I turned to watch television. No help either. The TV guide, “TV Today”, was from last week. The charts were as bad as in Süddeutsche Zeitung. But not even worse. Oh my goodness.

TV Today, 2009-04-11, p. 4
Source: TV Today, 2009–04–11, p. 4. TV consumption in 2007 and 2008 in minutes on easter holidays (green) and average for the whole year (red).

Good news from Wall Street

Thursday, October 30th, 2008

The Wall Street Journal (2008–10–23) does it right. Nothing chopped off. The Royal Bank of Scotland in free fall. Nearly 14 %. You see it. The disaster as long as the column wide.

In the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ, 2008–10–23) 29 out of 50 bars for the Stoxx index end trembling in haze.

The reason: To spare nervous investors a lot of stress the SZ cuts everything above 5 %. Consequently, the 15.25 % lost by Repsol, too. Soothing. But nonsense.

Dear SZ, now that you are using beautiful graphical tables, why don’t you use them correctly?

You must not chop

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Again. My law of proportion. The idea of a chart is: Display proportions between values with proportions of length. Proportional. Proportional. Proportional. You can ignore it. You can also lick out an empty bowl. If you are a rather dumb dog.

I yowled on cheating grids for time axis already. They manipulate. This one is even more elaborate. At first glance you think: a nice man, admits he hasn’t got the data. Wrong. He says: “I tease you but I admit it”. Remove 2001. It suggests that 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 have been the same as 2001. Were they, really?

Source: Euro 06/07, p. 42.

This is Howard’s rule „Ignore the visual metaphor altogether” in action. The data doesn’t fit on paper but I show it. A graph doesn’t fit on your paper? Use a table.

Source: Wirtschaftswoche 27, 2008–06–30, p. 82.

I like „Die Süddeutsche“. Its the first newspaper with graphic tables in the stock market section. And now this. The most interesting information – the outliers, the hotshots and the losers, that what you need to know: hidden. I’ll be on vacation.


Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2008–07–16.