Reflections about Statistics Lies,
Uses and Misuses of Statistical Graphics


Basketball Statistics Referred Concepts:
Reflections about Statistics Lies,
Uses and Misuses of Statistical Graphics


Basketball Statistics Analysis Referred Concepts
At the last weekly meeting of the concluded eBA Basketball Statistics Tracking Annual Clinic we were discussing the topic of the statistics lies which was initiated by the exposition "Statistics & Statisticians" at eBA ONLINE.

Here is the opinion of Paul H. Kvam and Joel Sokol from their work "Teaching Statistics with Sports Examples":

Statistical lies are most frequently committed in graphical form, where the eyes can be more easily deceived by spurious trends suggested in a picture. A common abuse is manipulating scales on charts and graphs by truncating, censoring or transforming the axis values.

The next figure shows two different charts showing an increase in average attendance at NCAA Women's Soccer games between 1998 and 2003. The first (blue)chart  is the default Microsoft Excel chart; many statistical software packages, in fact, will restrict both axes to a small set of values that contains the data, which helps the reader focus on chart differences more clearly. However, it also removes the scale of difference from the picture, which has potential to mislead readers who pay little attention to the axis labels.

Average Attendance at NCAA

Average Attendance at NCAA

Two different charts showing average attendance
at NCAA Women's Soccer (season) matches



The reader's sense of proportion can be manipulated further with image-based charts, which are standard in sports publications. As an example, the figure below graphs the season wins for the New England Patriots using clip-art in place of vertical bars.

Season Wins for the New England Patriots

Regular season wins for the New England Patriots, 2002-2003



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