Monday, July 18, 2011

Statistics are Misleading At Best, Filthy Liars at Second Best

Back in April, I somehow came across this site blaming President Obama for raging gas prices:


The implication is that since the moment Obama took office, gas prices have gone crazy. My god!

Wait wait wait…why the steep decline at the end of 2008? Let’s uncrop a bit (I downloaded some public data from an energy gov site, dropped it into Excel, and annotated it with SnagIt):

fuel prices

That’s a pretty different picture, isn’t it?

I’m not posting this to indict or vindicate anyone. I’m not even going to guess at explanations for the dramatic changes in that chart. I only post this to encourage people to be skeptical of charts, and to be especially suspicious of sensationalism.

Oh, and if you hate paying $3-4 dollars/gallon in the United States…it could be worse.