I've begun searching for news articles that either use statistics incorrectly (misunderstanding what a study means, making bogus claims, etc.), present data exceptionally poorly (misleading graphs), or other offenses against numeracy. I wasn't expecting to find much on Day 1. I was wrong.
The Alligator (UF's 'unofficial' school newspaper) has a daily online poll. Monday's question was "Have you eaten pizza this month?" with the results displayed as percentages and a bar chart. For example:
A few problems:
- The responses are given numerically only as a percentage with no indication of sample size (either by category or total responses). We are left to guess the sample size from the bar chart.
- The bar chart doesn't show 0 and goes so far as to not display the observations from the "no" respondents! Based on the percentages and guessing that "yes" had 61 respondents (it is hard to tell), it seems like "no" should have 11 which is certainly not what the graph appears to show.
- It isn't visible in the above chart, but on different pages of The Alligator the poll results showed slightly different numbers (85%/15% (picture) and 84%/16% (picture)). I could click back and forth between the pages and the numbers didn't change.