The Reliability of Infographics

UntitledMany people from the United States of America, including myself, believe that we are one of the most financially generous countries because we see ourselves as one of the most financially successful countries in this decade. This info graphic further strengthens this belief. The bright colors and presence of movement through this image caught my eye, so I decided to dig deeper into what it was actually saying. My first attempt to find out more information was to type the following into Google: ’where does aid money go?’ The first link that appeared was actually not for Wikipedia (which is what I assumed would come up) but for CNN News. After reading through some of the online article, I discovered that this info graphic pulled from a blog about Nigerian oil regions, is not completely correct compared the information presented by CNN News.

Even though this info graphic is presented in a professional manner and gives no upfront reason to be discredited, it cannot be fully trusted. Info graphics while often interesting to look at and more enjoyable to read, are not always the most accurate depictions of facts. Often times, for the sake of simplicity and visual appeal, the facts may be slightly altered or generalized. Also, info graphics can be very easily misinterpreted and confusing. It is not a good idea to base all of your knowledge of a topic on “facts” from an info graph but they can be extremely beneficial for general knowledge. However, when used along side of a body of text containing more supporting evidence to back up claim, info graphics can be very helpful in understanding meaning and application.

http://chewychunks.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/where-does-the-money-go.png

http://theweek.com/article/index/213466/aid-to-the-world

2 thoughts on “The Reliability of Infographics”

  1. I am sure you do not know the answer, but I am curious to know why anyone would lie about the distribution of aid money. What was happening in 2007 in the areas allegedly receiving the most aid (Africa and the middle east)?

    1. Interesting observation by Courtney here—and I wonder if the problem is lying or if it’s carelessness on the part of the infographic creators instead.

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