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Please begin with an informative title:

The common saying that figures don’t lie, but liars figure has obscure origins in our language. A favorite expression of the idea, well applied here:

In 1854 the idea of the saying was expressed with succinctness, but no droll wordplay is used [HCFL]:

    Figures won’t lie; but men that draw up the tables may.

Thus we find the mainstream media serving up grotesquely misleading information with this graphic about where billionaires choose to live from Forbes magazine, discused in Meteor Blades post yesterday.
Notice the extra band of darker green around the bloated US piece of the international billionaire pie.  With a little imagination, it looks like the US share of of world billionaires is eating up the relatively tiny colonies of the super-rich who choose to not live in the US.

But it only looks that way when the graphic leaves out, as Forbes' graphic does, "the 454 billionaires" who live in "all remaining countries.", as spelled out in the text, but not the graphic part of the Forbes slide. That ridiculous distortion immediately brought to mind FOX News' equally ridiculous graphic distortion about the ACA last week:

Screen shot of Fox News graph showing huge discrepancy between 6 million and 7 million.
One couldn't help but wonder what Forbes's pie chart should look like if it honestly accounted for all the numbers. A few moments with a spreadsheet answered that question, resulting in this rather different portrayal in the US race against the world as a home for billionaires:
This picture portrays about the opposite of the Forbes graphic, using Forbes own numbers. Now, a little imagination may suggest a smallish US sector under siege by the attractions, to billionaires, of living outside the capitalist paradise. At the very least, the true picture shows a much smaller role for the US as a home of choice for the world's billionaires, albeit the US share remains bloated disproportionate to our population. In any event, Forbes' graphic clearly distorts the very numbers reported.

Figures won’t lie; but men that draw up the tables may.

Except for yours truly, of course.


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