Randy Krum from Cool Infographics writes in:

In August, published The Truth about the Ice Bucket Challenge and included an infographic (“Where We Donate vs. Diseases That Kill Us”) that used proportionally-sized circles as its data visualization. The problem with this design was that the circle sizes didn’t match the values shown. This is a false visualization and significantly over exaggerated the smaller amounts of money contributed to each charity and the deaths attributed to each cause. The designer made the mistake of adjusting the diameter of circles to match the data instead of the area, which incorrectly sizes the circles dramatically.

To demonstrate, I designed a corrected version of the infographic and posted it on Cool Infographics®, which you can see here side-by-side next to the original. To stay close to the original, I only made three changes: corrected circle sizes, eliminated the color legend and added the connecting lines to help readers make the direct comparisons.


The Google Docs spreadsheet of the original data and correct circle area and diameter calculations is available here. To their credit, has also published a corrected version of the infographic in the original article.

The first step was to get the bubble chart data visualization correct. Now that we have an infographic that matches the data presented, we can step back and ask the hard questions.

  • Is a bubble chart the best way to visualize this information?
  • Is this the right data to show when comparing money raised to deaths by diseases?

From Twitter, @indented recreated the visual as a scatterplot using HighCharts to more clearly show the large differences. (The interactive is available here.)


Jon Schwabish (@jschwabish) also created a scatterplot version, but changed the data to compare individual fundraising events to National Institute’s of Health funding, and then size the bubbles by the number of deaths. (The interactive is available here).


We (myself, @indented, and @jschwabish) had an interesting Twitter discussion about this visualization and the challenges of using the various data sources.

twitter_conversation_1 twitter_conversation_2 twitter_conversation_3

Looking for other options and options about how this data can be improved, or visualized better…


Additional resources:

This Bubble Chart Is Killing Me, David Mendoza

Where Should Our Money Go?, Aneesh Karve

One of the worst infographics ever, but people don’t care?, Phil Price

Ice buckets, research and the cost of disease, Scienceogram UK

NIH Spending Versus Diseases That Kill Us, Mohammed AlQuraishi