Russia Flattens the Curve. Or Do They?

I chose to write about how the media can choose to use misleading graphs to misrepresent that data they are presenting and possibly persuade their viewers to develop a different opinion based on the misrepresentation of the data. Misrepresenting data or using misleading graphs can be done through but not limited to the use of inappropriate scales in graphs, using pictographs, and cutting out data completely. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, sometimes downplaying the virus and making it not as serious as it actually is. I chose to focus mainly on graphs and data during the coronavirus pandemic from many reputable and wide-spread news sources that mislead viewers and downplay the virus as a whole.

One example of the use of misleading graphs during the coronavirus pandemic is a graph from a Russian TV Channel. The bars of the graph do not match up with the increase in cases and the end of the graph, the curve seems to flatten, when in reality, the curve continues at a steady and exponential increase.

Russian TV Graph Courtesy of Towards Data Science

As you can see in the graph, courtesy of Towards Data Science, the actual increase in cases does not correspond with the visual increase in cases. In reality, the curve is nowhere near as flattened as it appears in the graph. The graph should really continue to exponentially grow and would be modeled in the graph that follows.

What the Graph Should Look Like, Courtesy of Towards Data Science



Not only does the first graph not match up between the actual data and the data that is visually represented, but it could mislead viewers of this Russian TV Channel into thinking that they are flattening the curve and that the virus is going away.

There are many examples of this kind of media manipulation and can be seen every day in many forms. Misleading graphs and the misrepresentation of data is just one example of media manipulation and can be an effort by the media to mislead their viewers and form another conclusion from the data. This specific example is very important and misleading because it downplays the pandemic that we are currently in and can be harmful to the outcome of the pandemic.

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