Graphs Gone Wild

Graphs Gone Wild

What we can Learn From the Planned Parenthood Graph Incident

Unless you've been living under a rock (or struggling through college midterms season), you are probably up-to-date on the events of last weeks' congressional Planned Parenthood meeting. And if you have been watching the fallout from that meeting, you may have heard about the scandal surrounding a certain graph, produced by Utah's Republican representative Jason Chaffetz as definitive "proof" of the organization's pernicious activity. For those of you who have not yet seen said graph, I'll just leave this here:

Behold, a striking display of mathematical genius! Note the absence of a y-axis, a clearly ingenious and incredibly subtle maneuver by the graphic artists to prove to us that everything we learned in grade school math class was actually a lie.

Children of America put your pencils down. Save yourself the trouble of writing that meaningless second axial label. The number 327,000 is, in fact, greater than 935,573, and y-intercepts are a thing of the past. Forget everything your calculus professor taught you--this is politics.

*For a bonus chuckle, note the source (bottom right-hand corner), and watch this video of Cecile Richards schooling Jason Chaffetz on the importance of reliable reference materials.

In all seriousness, though, the construction of this plot is abominably misleading. For a bit of perspective, this is what that same graph would have looked like in accordance with the rules of simple algebra:

Through the simple addition of a second axis, the graph provided by Chaffetz loses much of its visual significance. The sky-rocketing red slope of abortion services presented on the original graph evens out to a nearly-horizontal slant in Vox's mathematically-accurate plot.

But wait--it gets better! Vox takes its graphical analysis to yet another level of accurate representation by incorporating statistics for STI/STD treatment, and well as contraceptive services, into this completely comprehensive chart:

For those of you wondering: no, that is not an image depicting two different graphs. That's one plot, representing a massive amount of beneficial, potentially lifesaving health services performed by an organization that many Americans rely on in order to stay happy and well. It's just big because, well, it's actually drawn to scale.

By no means is the now-infamous Anti- Planned Parenthood graph the only instance of laughably manipulated "graphs" in the media. Actually, they're everywhere. To underscore the irrelevance of incorrectly-rendered graphs, take a look at these and play "Spot the Deceptive Graphical Inaccuracies," (my new favorite game).

The "Difference-is-strangely-larger-than-expected" Graph

When did 35 percent get so much smaller compared to 39.6 percent? Oh right, when Fox started the origin at a value of 34 percent...

The "Oops-we-inverted-the-y-axis-but-this-serves-our-purpose-better" Graph

"Hey boss, I have an idea-- let's just start the graph at a y-axis value of one thousand and slowly build up to zero. Nobody will ever notice, trust me..."

The "This-is-why-we-check-our-math" Graph

Scotland really gave 110 percent in this election. Literally.

All in all, this past Tuesdays' Planned Parenthood debates taught us about a lot more than mere federal funding-- it proved once and for all that sleeping through math class is never a good idea. Long live y=mx+b!

Popular Right Now

I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.

Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.


Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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