Pie Charts: The Prime Evil
posted by Dave Hoffman
I’ve been busy working on edits for my recent paper, which attempts to present lots of data in relatively clear ways. I’ve gotten some great comments from readers. None more so than this one, in response to a proposed figure providing some descriptive statistics:
Pie charts are bad! They are ugly and provide the reader no visual assistance in comparing categories.
One of the prevailing orthodoxies of this forum – one to which I whole-heartedly subscribe – is that pie charts are bad and that the only thing worse than one pie chart is lots of them.
The thing I don’t get is why: pie charts seem to be a very common form of data presentation; and folks are accustomed to measuring the area of slices of pie, so the visuals convey important data. What’s wrong with a slice of pie? (And, more importantly, are dot plots really better?)