Tag Archives: Bottled water

Are Infographics as Trustworthy as They Seem?

http://www.vijayforvictory.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/The-Facts-about-Bottled-Water.jpg

Infographics are unique in that they convey information effectively and creatively with an emphasis on visual elements. A side effect of this method is that people tend to believe it unconditionally. Images give viewers a false sense of authority from the author that is not always justified.

As with many infographics, the sources in the above graphic are small and to the side. One of the sources listed at the bottom (here is the link) concerns the price of bottled water and offers the information surrounding the cost of tap water versus that of bottled water. Several of the sources are broken links; the one I picked was one of the few that was still intact. The source, which, for the sake of clarity, will be referred to as the article, happens to be published by the same group as this infographic (Environmental Working Group or EWG) but is not completely consistent with the data that is shown in the image. While the infographic states “the price of bottled water is up to 10,000 times the cost of tap water”, the article states that this number is closer to 1,900.

Some brief digging shows that EWG is a credible source that researches and reports much of its data. Because of this fact, it is relatively safe to assume that the article is the primary document. The troubling aspect of this finding is that the infographic above is also a product of EWG which affects the credibility of both sources. One possible reason for this discrepancy is exaggeration, as it is clear that the intent of the above infographic is to discourage the use of bottled water. Exaggerating the price of bottled water is an effective and eye catching way to reduce its  consumption. In light of this finding, the validity of both the infographic and the reports at EWG may be placed into question, despite the viewers initial impressions of the infographic. While some of the information that is presented in this image may very well be true and supported, the overall perceived credibility of the infographic may be augmented by its visual appeal. It is a distinct possibility that the infographic is incorrectly communicating data and its validity should be put into question.