Fun With Charts: Scale Matters

At first glance, this chart makes it look like food stamp usage has gone from almost nothing at some unspecified time in the past, to some huge amount over a span of who-knows-how-long.

Only a fraction of the visitors to the site will click on the chart to see the scale, which reveals that the increase is about 6% of the population over four years.


While it’s certainly worthy debating whether a 6% increase in food stamp usage over four years is alarming, that figure doesn’t grab like the sharply-angled chart, which puts 8.5% and 26M as the lowest measurements, where our brain expects to see a baseline of zero.

Illinois rewarded for misspending only $52 million on food stamps «