February 17, 2010

The Data is Errata: Lies, Damn Lies, Statistics, and Junk Graphs


The Obama administration just posted a graph (Road to Recovery!) showing monthly job loss from December 2007 (Bush in red) up to last month. Discuss.

From Road to Recovery – Is the Recovery Act working? | FlowingData where they already have a fine discussion going. You might want to attend.

Posted by Vanderleun at February 17, 2010 12:37 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Since that's pretty much a symmetrical normal distribution, it suggests that neither Bush nor Obama had much actual effect.

Posted by: Charlie Martin at February 17, 2010 12:51 PM

They are like kids in the cookie jar. They know they are going to get busted, but tomorrow is a long time when you have a need.

Posted by: at February 17, 2010 1:22 PM

even if we are gullible enough to believe these numbers, it works out to over $35,000 per job. If there had been a temporary tax cut and a worldwide reduction of tariffs, how many jobs would have been saved or created? If we keep going we should be able to grow our economy to compete with Greece.

Posted by: murray from Canada at February 17, 2010 2:34 PM

I believe the graph is part of a blatant attempt by Obama to take undeserved credit for something he in fact helped create. Obama could have chosen any number of other graphs: unemployment rate, annual debt, deficit. Why show this one? The answer is obvious. On a quick glance it shows a value that was quickly dropping, just as quickly rising. Great visual impact but highly misleading.

By the way, Charlie, I'm not a statistician but I'm fairly certain a normal distribution is a specific curve describing probability data. The job losses per month are a time series so it is incorrect to speak of it as a normal distribution. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normal_distribution

Posted by: mistersurefire at February 17, 2010 3:51 PM

Clearly, they read and were deeply influenced by your graphic presentations post. As a result, they now have awesome power to turn around public perceptions of their performance and will doubtless prevail in all their policies. I hope you are pleased with yourself, and will take time this Ash Wednesday to ponder deeply what will become of your soul.

Posted by: Sylvia at February 17, 2010 5:13 PM

...a bottomless morass of bullshit.

Posted by: ahem at February 17, 2010 8:04 PM

I'm suspicious that they don't specify "net job loss". Just "job loss".

Anyway, this graph should be all blue, because congress has been in the hands of the Dems for all this period.

Posted by: Brett_McS at February 18, 2010 12:42 AM


This [zombie] Administration has surely mastered the use of "the big lie" with regards to keeping their natural constituency in line...Gotta give them that.

Posted by: monkeyfan at February 18, 2010 7:48 AM

An exercise in cherry-picking and misdirection.

Stretch the graph back to 2000 and show which party was in control of Congress, when, and you'll see the real story. An educated citizenry could do that without thinking. Too bad we live in the celebrated Age of Stupid.

Posted by: goy at February 18, 2010 12:23 PM