There are so many bad charts published every single day that redesigning some of them would be a full time job. Many are involuntarily funny. And there are some dangerous and stupid ones.

I live in Portugal, a small country that only gets international press coverage when something goes wrong. Like now. Public debt is a serious problem, and, judging from this chart above, we are doomed.

What can we do when debt starts skyrocketing by 2015? Apparently not much. Unless…

Unless there is something wrong with the chart. Let’s take a closer look at the x axis:

The scale is not proportional, and that explains the exponential growth. Now, let’s correct the scale and compare the trend:

While it still looks bad, the message both chart send is quite different: “doom and gloom” on the left, “maybe we can clean up this mess” on the right.

Apparently, the data was too boring, and the graphic designer decided to spice up the story a bit. But the chart was published in Expresso, a very popular Portuguese weekly newspaper, and given its high standards, I want to believe that’s not the case. So, only unforgivable ignorance and/or negligence can explain this.

Your thoughts?