If you've read Darell Huff's seminal 1954 book How to Lie With Statistics, you've learned an important rule of thumb: any chart whose Y-axis doesn't start at zero is cause for suspicion, if not alarm.
But Huff's heuristic has become dogma. As Vox discovers, over and over again, posting a chart with a non-zero Y origin is a surefire way to attract a ton of angry email from people accusing you of being up to no good. So they made the movie you see above, explaining why the Y shouldn't always be zero, and that's where things start to get interesting.
Because, as Waxy points out, the video arrived just before the National Review posted an incredibly deceptive chart of their own, about climate change, that used the zero-origin Y to, well, lie with statistics.
The only #climatechange chart you need to see. https://t.co/XWPo00GulS (h/t @powerlineUS) pic.twitter.com/QcrN2fCouT
— National Review (@NRO) December 14, 2015
Waxy rounded up the whole story, including many of the sweetest responses to the National Review's chart, like this one:
The only #undocumentedimmigration chart you need to see. @NRO @powerlineUS #FunWithYAxes pic.twitter.com/3WJR4Ggd94
— Jeff Yang (@originalspin) December 14, 2015
Lying With a Zero Axis