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Data manipulation via 3D pie charts

Today, I would like to discuss the perspective and color of a graph that can be used to mislead people. And this is probably where the adversity towards 3D-pie charts come in.


The use of perspective in 3D charts can be an optical illusion that manipulates the viewer. Pie charts are particularly susceptible to this, as they can be positioned in a way that gives a skewed perspective. The key slice of the circle can be placed in front, with the use of appropriate angles and colors, to create a visualization that looks the way the designer intended, even if the data suggests a different outcome. For example, in the first graph the actual situation of the company is shown compared to its competitors, but in the second one the company appears better off, despite only having 22% of the market share. This positive image was emphasized with the use of green, while competitors were weakened by using grey or red. The third dimension and perspective in pie charts can make it difficult to perceive the correct proportions, as the viewer sees an ellipse rather than a circle. Removing the data labels as a percentage could further hinder the viewer's ability to see the actual situation.


In a nutshell, only one thing worse than a pie chart: a 3D pie chart!


Happy presenting




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