[Misleading Graph] Peyton Manning vs. Russell Wilson

Does the graph create the impression that Peyton Manning has about 10 times as many pass attempts as Russell Wilson?

What can you do with this?

One approach would be to show students the graph and ask how this visual representation could be misleading. Point to the sizes of the circles.

A different approach could be to remove information (and add perplexity). Show them this:

PMvsRW (w: perplexity)Have students estimate Peyton Manning’s career pass attempts. I’m anticating many students will compare the sizes of the circles. They’ll think about how many green circles could fit in the orange circle. They may not think 100, but I’m confident they’ll think much more than 10. They may have other strategies. Have students share them.

Give students rulers (and the formula A = πr² if they ask for it). Ask them if they’d like to revise their estimate.

Reveal this:

PMvsRW (w:o perplexity)Were students misled? I’m anticipating some will compare the diameters. Take advantage of that. If not, challenge them to find out why the circles are the sizes they are.

Given Manning’s circle, have students draw Wilson’s circle to the correct size. Again, have students share strategies.

(I’ve created this applet in GeoGebra. Not sure what, if anything, it gets me.)

Screen shot 2014-01-29 at 11.41.35 AM

Allowing students to possibly be misled by a misleading graph… should’ve thought of that earlier.

I don’t think @ESPNStatsInfo is trying to suggest a much wider experience gap. Seahawks fans may disagree, but the tweet backs me up. This is accidental: the result of focussing on graphic, not info, in infographic.


3 thoughts on “[Misleading Graph] Peyton Manning vs. Russell Wilson

    • So, I used this in my 9th grade prob and stat class. What I liked about it is that you didn’t necessarily need to know anything about football in order to be part of the conversation. However, those that DID know something about both players were able to add something special: how about comparing the number of attempts of Russell Wilson currently with the number of attempts of Peyton Manning after 2 years experience. Here’s where we got the data:
      Then, another student brought up the point that perhaps a passing team and a rushing team would have different stats to show for their quarterback.
      Anyway, it was a delightful discussion. Thanks again for posting.

  1. Thanks, Megan. Wow. I post this one day and the next, before I’ve had a chance to try it (or even have my morning coffee), you’ve used the activity and given me some feedback. A cool feature of the #MTBoS, no? I want to know, did I correctly anticipate what students would estimate/their reasoning?

    I don’t know a ton about football, but I do know comparing the pass attempts of a QB who’s played 14 seasons to one who’s played 2 seems odd. But that’s the point of the infographic, I guess — to draw attention to each QB’s level of experience.

    Looking at each QB’s first two seasons, I’d like to bring it full circle and ask students how they would represent that data and why. Revisiting the idea of using a y-axis that doesn’t start at 0 (say 900) could be fun here.

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