Bad Chart Thursday, for me, has always been about examining through satire how people and organizations mislead, through charts or through ideas I can illuminate as nonsense simply by charting the logic. But satire has become really difficult to write lately, with reality repeatedly seeming like an Onion headline. And every day, there are serious issues going on that are difficult to pull out of in order to regain the sense of humor I need to do Bad Chart Thursday properly. Serious issues have always been going on, I realize, and I’ve even tackled some in this column. But the sheer Gish galloping of appalling news every day has made it difficult for me to pull myself out of the horror and regain the perspective I need.
It’s ironic, because there is SO MUCH material to write about. I have a folder full of half-written posts and research, plus more than a few silly charts I’ve collected for fun, but I keep running into the problem of not finding the humor in the horror, of feeling like I’m belittling serious subjects or spending time on trivial ones when I could be doing SOMETHING, ANYTHING about the many different problems we face in the US and in the world.
I’m not giving up, because Bad Chart Thursday is one of my very favorite things, whether I’m writing it or not. And I actually truly believe that humor is one of our best defenses in dark times. I may not have the energy to write anything longer than snark on Twitter at the moment, but that won’t last forever.
In the meantime, since you came all this way, I am including a chart in today’s post (a map, really). I am cheating because this is as far from a bad chart as it is possible to get. But it’s so good that even if you’ve seen it, odds are, you don’t mind seeing it again.
The map was created by ObservableHQ as a response to that silly map of red (Republican) and blue (Democrats) that pretends acreage votes in elections.
Here it is in original Tweet form for context. Be sure to click on the gif to see the transformation from a terrible map to a fantastic one BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES:
Challenge accepted! Here is a transition between surface area of US counties and their associated population. This arguably provides a much more accurate reading of the situation. @observablehq notebook: https://t.co/wdfMeV5hO4 #HowChartsLie #DataViz #d3js https://t.co/lStHeeuMUw pic.twitter.com/MpYiXtsHmu
— Karim Douïeb (@karim_douieb) October 8, 2019