Skip to content

Dept of silly graphs

Bill Harris points to this:


Bill writes:

Someone on the evaltalk mailing list pointed out the great bar graph representing the numbers 56, 81, and 95 (the number of HD channels on three different services). The group was trying to figure out the y axis scaling that could produce such a graph . . . The scaling is perhaps not that hard, if you assume it’s a 3-D plot and the 95 is much closer to the viewer than the other bars. That’s not a graphing technique I’ve seen formally taught.

P.S. I also wonder what’s on those extra channels. Are they 14 channels of home shopping, or what?

P.P.S. No, this is not even close to being a candidate for worst graph ever.


  1. Jeremiah says:

    That right there is just telling lies with pictures. It doesn't even count as graphing.

  2. The Stupid Kid says:

    Hey Andrew:

    Its the stupid kid, again, who asked you about geometric and harmonic means and which one to use to for the stock market. You could have told me Mandelbrot, used a levy distribution to model the financial markets, which doesn't have a mean… I guess Taleb pointed this out in the Black Swan, but I didn't really get the whole fractals as related to the the market thing from his explanation. Anyway, stumbled across it again today and then saw that you linked to it way back in 2006 when you first read Taleb. I guess I should have mentioned him in my question. Anyway, things make more sense now.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Note that the ad-copy specifies "including locals" – it makes me think that they are sports channels which include regional programming; at least in the past, this has been a touchy point for licensing.

    Maybe the 14 channels direcTV gives you are four-or-five times harder to get, as in licensing costs or legal difficulties, than the 25? The y-axis, being unannotated, may be in lawyer-hours or licensing-dollars.

  4. Nick says:

    Haha, now you're just getting pedantic.

  5. chipdouglas says:

    This is hardly surprising. I once worked in the marketing department of a startup, writing copy and aggregating press releases and research to flatter our product. Corporations, for all their merits, are not in business to tell it like it is. Their "research" is not peer-reviewed of course; rather, there is a formal industry for subcontracting out PREDETERMINED, IMPRESSIVE RESULTS to companies who specialize in conducting these phony studies to produce the desired results.