During the holidays season, I’m having more time to catch up watching movies. On that long list a film “Another round” can be found. In a nutshell, the plot is about four friends and their unexpected alcohol experiment. Everything is done in the spirit of science, of course. In truth, this dark comedy-drama touches on a very sensitive social problem that affects many people around the world.
I’m wondering how Poland looks compared to other European countries and if Poles on average drink more or less in comparison to Danes? According to WHO (World Health Organization) data from 2018 average Pole drinks 11.71 pure alcohol and Dane 10.26 (15+ years). The difference is 1.45. Is Poland near or far from Denmark? Depending on the colour palette and applied scale we can perceive it differently, and consequently, convey different stories or draw misleading conclusions.
5 stepped colour
I used Tableau Public to visualize data. This visualization is automatically chosen by Tableau. According to the visualization, Poles are not in the lead for European countries and Danes are somewhere in the middle of the scale.
3 stepped colour
But wait a minute. What a shame! Poles are heavy drinkers. Now I can see it clearly.
7 stepped colour
OMG… how much beer average Czech had to drink to win this competition? When it comes to Poland, it is not so bad. Poland is near the middle of the range.
Reversed 3 stepped colour
Hm… I’m a little bit confused. I have the impression that Poles don’t avoid occasions to celebrate the fragility of life, but now I can see is opposite. (Who would check legend description? Waist of time, data visualizations are intuitive!)
Attention: Remember in our culture stronger colour saturation means increased occurrence of the phenomenon.
As we can see, each of the four above examples depicts the same information differently, and that difference can be significant.
Maps are commonly used in public media and people like them. The same is in the business world. However, knowing it from experience, it is very easy to manipulate information presented on maps. Before you publish or share your map ask yourself:
- Does scale represent the statistic bins,
- Are colours adjusted to the topic,
- Is reverse scale justified?
Data source: https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SH.ALC.PCAP.MA.LI?view=map