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Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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Revision as of 05:35, 4 March 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!

We have collaboratively explained 6 xkcd comics, and only 2017 (33617%) remain. Add yours while there's a chance!

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Go to this comic explanation

Y-Axis
We've also developed the semi-semi-log scale, where the Y-axis for the left half of the graph is a log scale but on the right half it isn't.
Title text: We've also developed the semi-semi-log scale, where the Y-axis for the left half of the graph is a log scale but on the right half it isn't.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by a MISLEADING GRAPH - Please change this comment when editing this page. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.

The comic itself makes a poke at recent trends where the y-level range for a given dataset is exaggerated, so that a dataset containing 3 y-levels has larger peaks and troughs shown. Usually, this is done by cutting out most of the possible ranges in a dataset and leaving in only those that relate to the set itself, and then inserting extra y-levels to make the dataset seem more carefully measured.

The graph shows an attempt to mislead readers by manipulating the y-axis scale of the graph in a creative manner: The y-axis at the left side the graph is normally spaced; However, the gridlines marking each 10% increment are not straight, but bunch up before reaching the first data point, resulting in a distorted effective y-axis for the rest of the graph. All the data points lie between the 10% and 20% gridlines, but a casual reader may not notice this and think that the graph uses the full 0% to 100% range.

The title text is related to the Semi-log plot, where one of the two axis is plotted on a logarithmic scale. The title text takes this to a further extreme with the semi-semi-log, where only part of the axis is plotted on a logarithmic scale.

Transcript

Ambox notice.png This transcript is incomplete. Please help editing it! Thanks.
[Caption below the frame:]
People have wised up to the "Carefully Chosen Y-Axis Range" trick, so we misleading graph makers have had to get creative.



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