Friday, September 25, 2020

'How Charts Lie': a few clarifications and edits

(Update 01/08/2020: you can now DOWNLOAD most figures from the book in high resolution and in two different color schemes.)


Page 44: where it says “people became richer or poorer” or “people in those countries contaminated more or less,” I think I'd add a qualifier such as “on average” just in case, as these are per capita numbers.

Page 73: the Richter scale is based on tenfold increments of wave amplitude. That's what I mean by “stronger”; in other words: it's not the possible energy released, which increases at higher rates.

Page 74: in the fictional example about gerbil population growth, I assumed that the parents die shortly after giving birth; otherwise, by the second generation we wouldn't have double the gerbils (8 children) but triple, a total of 12: 8 children and their 4 parents.

In general: whenever you see Kaplan-Meier charts in the book, assume that lines have been smoothed; actual Kaplan-Meier estimators create lines that look like staircases.

Page 129: where it reads “ex-Soviet” countries it should be “ex-communist” countries, which is more accurate.


If you read the first print edition of How Charts Lie you may notice a few printing and layout errors. These should have been corrected in the e-book already, and also for the paperback version, to be released in October of 2020. If you detect anything that looks strange other than these, please let me know.

I've printed out cards containing the main corrections. If you want to receive one and keep it inside your copy of the print book, contact me.

On page 24 the transparency effects that should emphasize or hide parts of the charts disappeared between the galleys—where the graphic was perfect—and the final printing. Mysteries. Here's how that graphic should look like:

On page 45 the line corresponding to the United States didn't show when printed. Here's the graphic:

There's a minor issue with the gradient on the second bar of the chart on page 142: it doesn't fade to white. It should look like this:

A chart on page 116 is slightly misplaced.

On page 49, the second paragraph should read: “Imagine that a district's circle sits on the +20 line above the baseline. This means that Republicans lost 10 percentage points, which went to Democrats, for a total of +20 percentage point change in their favor (there weren't third-party candidates, I guess.)”

On page 92 there's a needless “is” in a sentence that should read “Unless a crime is premeditated...” On page 104 there's an “s” missing at the end of “assess” (this one made me giggle.) At the bottom of page 128 there's an “as” missing before “Assange”. And on page 157 there's a tiny label that should read MS instead of MI. The last label on the Y-scale of the chart on page 172 should read “600” instead of “490”.