Pointing to some horrible graphs, Kaiser writes, “The Earth Institute needs a graphics adviser.”
I agree. The graphs are corporate standard, neither pretty or innovative enough to qualify as infographics, not informational enough to be good statistical data displays.
Some examples include the above exploding pie chart, which, as Kaiser notes, is not merely ugly and ridiculously difficult to read (given that it is conveying only nine data points) but also invites suspicion of its numbers, and pages and pages of graphs that could be better compressed into a compact displays (see pages 25-65 of the report). Yes, this is all better than tables of numbers, but I don’t see that much thought went into displaying patterns of information or telling a story. It’s more graph-as-data-dump.
To be fair, the report does have some a clean scatterplot (on page 65). But, overall, the graphs are not well-integrated with the messages in the text.
I feel a little bit bad about this, because I’m involved with the Earth Institute. I should be their graphics adviser! I’m actually surprised they didn’t ask me for advice on this. I gave a talk to the Earth Institute postdocs a year or so ago, so they should know I like graphs!
P.S. Nathan Yau reproduces the report’s Figure 11, which is just as bad as the exploding pie chart shown above.