NEWS10 February 2014

Logarithmic scale risks ‘false impression’ of gov't figures

Government News UK

UK — HM Treasury has been criticised by the head of the UK Statistics Authority over the use of a logarithmic scale in a report on national infrastructure investment, which runs the risk of creating “a false impression”.

In responding to complaints raised by Labour MPs John Healey and Chris Leslie, Statistics Authority chairman Andrew Dilnot said the chart, prepared by the Treasury for the December 2013 National Infrastructure Plan, could leave readers confused about the scale of investment between sectors.

The original chart is below:


And here’s an alternative prepared by the Statistics Authority using a standard linear scale:


Dilnot noted in his reply that the figures quoted in the National Infrastructure Plan were not official statistics, and there was therefore no obligation on the Treasury to comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics in relation to these figures.

“Nevertheless,” he added, “the Authority believes that the principles of the Code can usefully be applied as good practice to other numerical outputs.”

Hat-tip: Tom Ewing’s Blackbeard Blog, and Left Foot Forward.


1 Comment

10 years ago

Log scales can be helpful, for example when seeking to understand exponential growth patterns - but this is simply misinformation. It looks like the winner in an office competition to how can we present this data so as to make it most misleading. Look, on the linear scale, how small the investment on flood and water are - pigeons home to roost I think.

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