It’s obviously an exaggeration. And there’s nothing wrong with that in this case because it’s clear that the map doesn’t intend to convey statistically accurate information, although it is based on it (see here). The exaggeration is a deliberate tool in the dramatization of the wars, and that’s OK because war is tragic. However, exaggeration often occurs in statistics – meaning in forms of communication meant to convey accurate information. And then it’s a problem. There’s an example here.
Statistics in map form are particularly vulnerable to this: putting events on a map quickly overloads the map and gives the impression that a phenomenon is much more common than it really is. Take for instance the map below, which makes it look like the U.S. and especially the east of the U.S. is inundated by hate crime groups:
This can give an altogether misleading message.
- “Wikileaks Iraq War Logs on Google Maps” and related posts (googlemapsmania.blogspot.com)
- U.S. military says 77,000 Iraqis killed over 5 years (ctv.ca)
- Pixelating the Casualties in Iraq (infosthetics.com)