Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 8, 2012

Whatcom Republicans and Venn Diagrams

As many of loyal readers will attest to, I love graphical displays of data; whether it is maps of voter blocks, line graphs of ballot dropoff or the ever-useful Venn diagram.

Recently the Whatcom Republicans shared this lovely image with their fans on Facebook.

Not a Venn diagram

The whole point of a Venn diagram is that you have two or more different topics, and you want to compare them. The overlap is what they have in common. For instance, here is one of my favorite Venn diagrams (yes, I have favorites!) that shows various Science Fiction shows, with my favorite, Doctor Who, in the middle.

Doctor Who Venn diagram

You can clearly see that the overlap is what they share.

So let’s go back to that graph the Whatcom Republicans shared. The overlap seems to be “the Gap”, where allegedly “Promise” and “Results” don’t align. Which means that if they were to do a proper Venn diagram, it would look like this:

Riley’s lousy paint version

Yes, it is a really lousy version I whipped up on paint, but since the artist in the family is at work, this is what you get. The point is that what the Whatcom Republicans posted really isn’t a Venn diagram. So I pointed that out and got this lovely response:

Apparently, I’m a hack

Now this particular graphic was designed by the Romney campaign, which leaves us with even more questions like, “If you can’t trust them with a Venn diagram, how can you trust them with our national seal? What other visual icons will they fumble with? The Statue of Liberty? Why do they hate graphical representation so much?!”

Cheap Shot

Now that is being a partisan hack.

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Responses

  1. You’re correct, of course.

    The sets might have been labeled differently: Your “promise” set might have been labeled, “Healthcare consumers, as represented by the premiums they pay for health insurance, before PPACA.”

    Your “results” set might have been labeled, “Healthcare consumers, as represented by the premiums they pay after the implementation of PPACA.”

    In my imagination, those sets would intersect (only a bit, however) , and the subset, which would be quite small, might be labeled “Those healthcare consumers whose premiums have not changed as a result of the implementation of PPACA.”

    The Venn diagram is a bad way of presenting before-and-after costs, of course.

  2. Exactly. If the point you are trying to make is that there is a “Gap” between those two items, you could choose literally hundreds of ways to show it; opposing cliff faces, a bar graph, any number of options other than a Venn diagram.

  3. I do not think that word means what they think it means.

    • Inconceivable!!!

  4. […] welcome arrival of summer! If you missed it over the weekend, I had a short little post about Venn diagrams that is worth a glance, and I am still taking bets on the Veepstakes. Right now, I am gearing up […]

  5. […] electoral future. I can see the attack ads now. Anyway, I often build charts of data, or thoroughly mock terrible charts from other […]

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