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Bad Chart Thursday: CNN Pot Pie

We are living in the age of the infographic, and no chart is safe, least of all the ordinary pie chart. Making the chart visually appealing comes first, and clarity comes second . . . if at all.

If you’ve got information to display in a pie chart, you can make the chart into any image you like–a doughnut, a planet, a basketball, a festering boil.

You can even put your weed in it.

CNN recently did just that in a chart they tweeted as part of the publicity for a series about the legal pot industry, High Profits.

CNN weed chart

Now, sure the percentages don’t add up to 100, and it takes a while (and perhaps a search for the data source) to realize that the percentages are out of 100% surveyed within each age group,* making the pie chart a terrible format to begin with, but LOOK, it’s a pot leaf for a chart about WEED!

Following CNN’s lead, I decided to create my own highly reliable chart depicting how exactly the CNN chart ever made it to the public:

CNN emp tried weed

* Gallup did not survey anyone under 18.
H/T to Nicole Gugliucci and Frank Bi for not bogarting this chart.

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer living in a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband, two kids, dog, and two cats. When not making fun of bad charts or running the Uncensorship Project, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and putting out random dumpster fires. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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  1. Should be a bar chart. We at the Bad Chart Thursday Appreciation Society have previously determined that bar charts are the appropriate representation for anything involving alcohol, and weed is in the same general category (recreational psychoactive substances), so bar charts are copacetic. Bongs might look good for the bars, but with the traditional tie-dyed color scheme, it is hard to tell how full of water they are, and that doesn’t make sense anyway. Fill it above the bowl, and the water all leaks out and soaks your hit. So I propose joints, though that doesn’t make much sense either. The groups without many pot heads would be represented by itty bitty roaches, and the heavy users would be represented by full J’s, when it should be the other way around. This requires some thought…. Oh, hey, look, that’s a really cool cloud!

    1. Such enthusiasm! Is that why you are called Buzz?

      Also, copacetic is my new favorite word.

      1. A joke which stuck, based on a rant about parsecs versus lightyears on Bad Astronomy many years ago. I claimed (without evidence) to be Buzz Lightyear’s evil twin (hence the beard). No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate.

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