Pie Charts

posted: 3351 days ago, on Thursday, 2008 Sep 18 at 02:16
tags: humour, statistics.

A friend (who will remain anonymous) recently told me all about the amazing Timothy Ferriss and his The 4-hour workweek. Mr Ferriss, who has nice biceps, does martial arts, likes to dance and hang upside-down (not necessarily all at the same time; see his website for the pics) promises to show you how to "escape 9 to 5, live anywhere, and join the new rich", with only a four-hour work week.

Well, there are 365 days, more or less, in a year. If you spend 8 hours a day in bed (getting ready for bed, sleeping, and so forth: 122 days), that leaves 243 days in the year. Counting breakfast, lunch and supper (preparing, eating, cleaning up: 45 days), you're left with 198 days. Most people don't work on week-ends anyway (104 days), so that leaves 94 days. And most people get three weeks official holiday from work, leaving 73 days available to work. But each day, you are travelling back and forth from home to work (say half-an-hour to get to work, and half-an-hour to get back home: 73 hours = 3 days) so you only have 70 days left to actually do any work. If you happen to work for a Jewish firm, you will get Fridays off (about 50 Fridays in a year), so you're only at work for 20 days in a year. Which means you're in any case working a 9-hour work week, so I really don't see what the big deal is.

Anyway, as Mark Twain once wrote, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." There is also the pie chart (or circle graph), probably the most-used statistical chart in the business world (note that it is rarely used in scientific publications). In the delightful How to Lie with Statistics, Darrell Huff warns about this and other forms of numerical chicanery.

However, I'd like to make a plea in defence of the pie chart. Although it is one of the most widely criticised statistical representation, I believe we need more of them. Here is today's example:

via: Hans van der Merwe

nothing more to see. please move along.