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During the 2011 State of the Union Address, the White House showed a series of infographics alongside the televised speech to show the data-driven evidence behind some of most important themes that were addressed.

Now, the table of "infographic evidence presentation" or "chartwars" has been turned, as the same technique is used 'against' Obama and his track record. Alongside various televised historical statements of Obama, a small collection of infographical illustrations contrast relevant performance metrics, such as jobs, economic growth and inflation, based on the time period between the beginning of his presidency (2008) and now.

Watch the movie below. The used infographics can be explored at Flickr.

Via @alexlundry.



This video takes short, broad, context-less statements and pairs them with figures from various time-spans that are affected by hugely complex considerations and years, often decades, of build-up.

But, you know, it's 'infographics,' so, I mean, I guess it's valuable.

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 1:57 PM

This blog has no "editorial" stance on this mis-use of "infographics" other than to put "against" in quotation marks, as if to wink at us?

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 2:24 PM

This blog has an editorial stance to take no sides in terms of political views.

The use of infographics here is original and warrants a post as it is the first case of extensive use of infographics in parallel to televised statements in a political campaign that I know of.

Maybe in retrospect I should have added something is going on with the changing time periods, yet the whole context of political campaigning should provide sufficient clues to any educated viewer to not believe everything what is shown (in any context, not only for infographics).

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 3:40 PM

"the whole context of political campaigning should provide sufficient clues to any educated viewer to not believe everything what is shown (in any context, not only for infographics)."

That is one large "should."

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 6:09 PM

This is serious misuse of information taken out of context and applied to 4 years after global economical downturn. This is exactly how rich and educated people manipulate not so educated and poor people. I think if you care about information you should not even publish that BS, but if you like how graphs look, sure.

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 6:59 PM

This?! From a site that claims to be promoting clarity in visualization?! If you want to talk gas prices, use an actual time series, not two cherry picked numbers. Like say this one: http://www.gasbuddy.com/gb_retail_price_chart.aspx?time=24

Gas prices were low in 2009 because of the Bush recession. They're higher now because the world economy is doing at least a little better, but they're still not at their previous peak in 2007.

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 7:39 PM

Sorry, your statement "to take no sides in terms of political views" doesn't cut it given your headline. If you wanted to comment on, not promote, that video, you needed a title like "Republican counterpoint to White House statistics". Your title and text endorse the video.

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 7:42 PM

@Commenters, if the subject was Bush or if the comparisons were more favorable, would you care as much about the misuse of infographics or time periods?

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 8:44 PM

@jb: Yes.

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 11:23 PM


Hell yes, it always bothers me when people knowingly pervert or misinterpret information.

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 11:36 PM

@jb (1) That's a completely crap infographic, so yes. (2) I'm not making any secret of being anti-Bush; the blog post & followup comment is claiming to be apolitical where it clearly isn't.

Thu 06 Oct 2011 at 11:50 PM

@Mikhail: In the contrary, I think blogs like this one should exactly post these 'manipulative' works, if only to entice a discussion as we have here in these comments.

@DirkKS(1): Looking now more in detail, I am not 100% agreeing about the cherry-picked numbers (or time periods): while the topics are certainly considered to reflect on the Obama administration negatively, the time periods seem to be consistently jan 2009 and august 2011. Looking at your link, they could have just chosen May 2011 ($3.96/G instead of $3.66/G).

@DirkKS(2): I did not want to comment on the piece. Please show me where I 'promote' or 'endorse' the video in the post. The title consists of a combination of the title of the piece, combined with a short description. This happens for most posts on this blog when the title of the work is short.

Note: I have posted quite some misleading politically-motivated infographics here before. Also from the liberal side. They are not that much better.

Fri 07 Oct 2011 at 12:24 AM

@infosthetics: but come on, you start the post with a link to Obama's State of the Union "infographics," which actually err on the side of charts, as a counterpoint to these right-leaning "infographics."

Either you're cynically drawing attention to the silliness of the latest graphics, or you're equivocating Obama's charts to this drivel from Flickr. Either way, data presentation is not neutral, or maybe it is in the way Fox News is.

I guess though, as I look through past post, you really do simply curate and present discoveries without much commentary on their relative merits or failings.

Fri 07 Oct 2011 at 2:53 AM

It would be interesting to know if the miscalculated scaling is intentional or just lack of skill.

Fri 07 Oct 2011 at 9:40 AM
Jörgen Abrahamsson

Just for the record:

minimal payment: > 7 USD / hour
gas price: 3-3.8 USD / gallon

In Hungary:
minimal payment: 2 USD / hour
gas price: ~6.8 USD / gallon

So don't tell me, that it's so freakin' hard in the US.

Fri 07 Oct 2011 at 12:10 PM

@g, @Mikhail, & @DirkKSOk. Thanks for the clarification. I'm all for calling out bad info as long as we're consistent and not picking sides or pulling punches.

Fri 07 Oct 2011 at 4:07 PM

I would assume this video would merit a discussion that seems to have followed the post had it actually been a worthwhile 'infographic'. It is poorly made, does not even bother to credit its sources and presents no convincing rationale for choosing this format for something as complex as policy debate.

Sun 09 Oct 2011 at 9:31 AM

@Tejas: the sources are credited at the bottom of the infographic that is available via the Flickr link. The Flickr link is clearly mentioned in the short textual description on the original YouTube page (and was also mentioned in my post).

I agree with all the other comments you made, yet I find the combination of movie and infographics strangely quite (and dangerously) persuasive. For that reason alone, I expect more of the same in the near future...

Mon 10 Oct 2011 at 8:13 PM
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