Debt Visualization: Danger or Insight?
This infographic showing a 3d rendering of a giant stack of $100 bills equal to the US debt, next to a soccer field, football field, and the statue of liberty, has been circling around the internet for the last week or so. Over at Business Insider they show some examples of how this Infographic is dangerous, borderline wrong.
The best defense of the infographic is: Well, $14 trillion is a gigantic number that’s hard to wrap your head around, and that’s true, but in the end, this kind of visualization just makes us more agog at the size, rather than putting them in meaningful context.
It’s a classic example of how difficult it is to create unbiased visualization. Just like the popular visualization shows how massive the debt is, their proposed replacements show that it’s not as bad as you might imagine. Neither one is technically “Wrong”, but each pushes a certain perspective of the data.