There’s been a recent trend of trying get people outraged over data. It’s a new trend of infographic-led marketing scheme that aims purposefully deceive both oridinary and smart people. Because of the color artwork and the usage of percentage signs, some of these infographic-deception cases can disarm the skepticism of the brightest minds. If you think fake news is a problem, then this is probably the first thing you should learn.

Nothing is more absused than the Lying Brackets. These infographics almost always play to your emotions and your heart before your head. In this post, I’ll go over how you can identify if you’re being lied to and what signals you need to watch out for.

You’ve probably seen this tactic nonstop on the news and in social media. They almost always follow some sort of pattern like this:

  • The top 1% of people does [insert injustice here]
  • The bottom 20% of people are [insert injustice here]

Immediately stop and slow down when you see something like this.

  1. First, recognize that you are given brackets. Brackets are slices of some data that was collected.
  2. Ask yourself if this info-presentation is trying to get you emotional.
    a. When in doubt: assume it is.
    b. Better safe than sorry.
  3. Look at what is happening inside the brackets

Here’s a hypothetical example:

You are given an article shared on Facebook saying

The bottom 20% of a school district’s students have an average test score of 55
The top 1% is with a score of 98

People rarely sit still

The brackets may be static, but the people and conditions are inside them are not.