Pictures Worth No Words


If I have a favorite kind of meme it would be the infographic. The idea that a complex issue can be summed up in a few data points is laughable at best. Add to it that the creators of these memes, as well as those that spread them, are prone to cherry picking data, you can’t ask for a better meme to deconstruct. The absolute best (worst) among them are those that manage to say nothing at all, while still somehow getting those posting it worked up into a lather. Below is a great example of this.

gunshop meme

Now I have gone on record these past several months as saying that it is my fellow gun ownership advocates that have jumped the shark in the debate, and I hold to that. These are people who equate any sort of attempt to revisit gun control as an attempt to take away all of our firearms, which just isn’t the case (hell how can they keep us afraid of each other if we aren’t armed to the teeth, but more on that another post.) All that aside, just what is it these infographic is trying to say?

Ten miles is not exactly right around the around the corner. If you live in any populated area, when you account for speed limits and traffic lights, you are talking roughly a twenty-minute drive. To put the whole idea in context, the borough of Manhattan is approximately two miles by ten miles. Now I am sure that there is more than one gun shop in Manhattan, but that begs the question, why didn’t they use population density per gun shop for their data? Does one gun shop per five thousand people sound too few to be truly scary? I mean, that sounds like a lot to me, but maybe that ratio is just too abstract. You need a smaller number to go along with number of gun shops, so miles works nicely, doesn’t it?

I don’t care what side of an issue you come down on, intellectual dishonesty is detrimental to productive dialogue which is exactly what any society needs to meet its challenges. Before any GRA’s get smug about this particular graphic, I would remind you of nice little examples on your end, such as comparing the number of gun deaths to deaths by accidental circumstance while only counting suicides and homicides for gun deaths and leaving out that no small amount of deaths by accidental circumstance are caused by misuse and mishandling of guns. Everyone gets in on this insipid game.

It’s pretty obvious why folks do it. These graphics are bright, bold, and easy to wrap your head around. It’s a great way to beat that drum and to keep the troops marching. No time to actual reflect on the issue honestly, just keep going forward with whatever the party line is and do not question. We have all the answers wrapped up in a pretty little package for you.

Well answers, real answers, answers that will help us solve our problems do not come easy. They take a lot of work. Understanding them also takes a lot of work and jumping on the prettiest pony is not going to get you where you need to go. You have to strain to pull yourself up on that big, ugly, draft horse of truth if you are going get anywhere. These graphics are that pretty pony, easy on the eyes, but ultimately useless, and ultimately saying nothing.


One thought on “Pictures Worth No Words

  1. Pingback: Avoiding The Rabbit Hole | Hand of Ananke

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