Meg McLain tells a great story about the relative risk of being killed by terrorists in the US. Unfortunately, she comes up with this baffling graphic which appears to use the sort of number scales beloved of President Obama’s budget speechwriters:
Sure, there’s a scale problem, when the multipliers range from 6 to 17,600, but generations of scientists and engineers have handled that with a logarithmic scale:
This still doesn’t give the compressed range that MM’s chart shows. Aha! Perhaps she’s using the little-known log-log scale (beloved by statisticians who deal with generalized linear models)–let’s see:
Pretty close. But how would any reasonable person expect a layperson to understand this exotic measurement scale?
Update (28 September). In her comments section, Dr Kiesling admonishes me not to “go all Tufte” and tosses out the phrase “mathematically pedant.” How flattering! I bet LK was the kind of girl who slugged guys in junior high to get their attention.