Review the assigned reading along with How to Spot a Misleading Graph(00:04:10) (opens in new window) and Potential Misleading Graphics [DOWNLOAD], to prepare for this discussion.
The graphic pictured here appeared on a cell phone bill in an attempt to show the monthly charges for three consecutive months. Note that the graph is zoomed in, and so, at first glance, it appears that from June to July there was a noticeable increase in the monthly charges. However, after taking a closer look, you will notice that the monthly charges increased by only $0.01 from June to July. The slope of the line from June to July is slightly positive ($0.01 per month). The slope of the line from July to August is zero, as there is no change in price. This graph is misleading because of the way the y-axis is scaled. The y-axis represents the amount of the bill in pennies, and the y-axis does not start at 0. The x-axis is scaled by months, with only three months appearing on the graph, though the distance between consecutive months is the same, and therefore represented appropriately.
Graphs are used in a variety of ways to convey information to a reader. Sometimes, though, graphs can be misleading, which is why it is important to note the labels, scale, numbers, and context of the graph before jumping to conclusions.
Choose one of the three graphs pictured in the Potential Misleading Graphics[DOWNLOAD], and respond to the following questions.
- What do the horizontal (x) and vertical (y) axes represent on the graph?
- What information are you missing, if any, in order to be able to fully understand this graph?
- What point might a person try to make by including this graph in an article, advertisement, or presentation?
- Why could this graph be considered misleading? How might you recreate the graph so that it is no longer misleading?
- Identify the purpose for the inclusion of the graph in the article.
- Do you think this graph is potentially misleading because of the way it was drawn? Why or why not?
- Initial Response: 150-250 words