Fact or Fiction: Covid-19 Graphs

JILLIAN SYLVESTER

This graph is misleading because it does not address the number of COVID tests taken in each state. New York tends to take more tests than states seen with less positive cases. If more tests are taken, more positives will arise solely because there are more numbers. The comparison between states on positive tests is guaranteed to mislead because they are not proportional to each other.

This graph from Fox News is misleading because the y-axis has an inconsistent scale going from zero, to five, to fifteen. The x-axis has also been manipulated as it moves forward eleven days, then eight, then five, and so on. The inconsistency of the axes manipulates the data to look like cases have tripled in a few days. 

This graph shown on the Rachel Maddow Show is misleading because of the two y-axes being on different scales but are both representing the daily number of cases. The rapid show of case drops is false as it should look more gradual, but still faster than the no mask group. Here is the revised graph.

The takeaway here is to always look deeper into a graph than just the visual effect it shows. Always check the scale of the axes, think about the proportion of the data, and think about how rational the visual is. Of course, there are more rules to finding correct graphs, but these three are a good baseline for debunking. 

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