The Playfair Ploy: Pie Charts, Heretical Ideas, and the Secret Manipulation of Freemasons to Aggravate Statisticians

Stephen Redmond
3 min readMar 17
The Playfair Ploy: Pie Charts, Heretical Ideas, and the Secret Manipulation of Freemasons to Aggravate Statisticians

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Pie charts have been both loved and loathed by statisticians, data analysts, and educators for centuries. A recent investigation has uncovered a conspiracy theory that alleges William Playfair, the Scottish engineer and political economist credited with inventing pie charts, had a secret motive to intentionally annoy statisticians. This theory suggests that Playfair may have been manipulated by the Catholic Church, which used the heretical ideas of Giordano Bruno to further their agenda while implicating the Freemasons.

The Church’s Hidden Agenda:
During the late 18th century, the Catholic Church was increasingly concerned about the rise of rationalism and the scientific method, which they perceived as a challenge to their authority and traditional belief systems. To undermine the influence of statisticians, they sought out an individual who could help them in their cause: William Playfair.

The Bruno Connection:
To ensure their plan would not be traced back to them, church agents fed Playfair with the heretical ideas of Giordano Bruno, an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, and mathematician who had been burned at the stake for his unorthodox views. By introducing Bruno’s ideas into the mix, the Catholic Church was able to maintain plausible deniability, as any suspicions would be directed towards the heretical Freemasons, rather than the Church itself.

The Manipulation of the Freemasons:
With the heretical ideas of Bruno in hand, Playfair formed an alliance with the Freemasons, who were also interested in undermining the growing influence of statisticians. Unbeknownst to the Freemasons, they were being manipulated by the Catholic Church, who sought to use their reputation as a smokescreen for their own involvement in the plot.

The Pie Chart Deception:
Together, Playfair and the unsuspecting Freemasons created the pie chart, a deceptively simple and visually appealing form of data visualization, secretly designed to annoy and confound statisticians. The use of pie charts became widespread, infiltrating academia, government, and media, while the Church secretly pulled the strings from behind the scenes.

The Legacy of Manipulation and Deception:
Despite the growing disdain for pie charts among statisticians, their use has persisted, thanks in part to their simplicity and aesthetic appeal. The legacy of William Playfair’s alleged plot, in conjunction with the heretical ideas of Giordano Bruno, and the secret manipulation of the Freemasons by the Catholic Church, has forever shaped the landscape of data visualization and left a trail of controversy and intrigue.

The conspiracy theory surrounding William Playfair’s true motives for inventing pie charts, the involvement of the Catholic Church, the heretical ideas of Giordano Bruno, and the unwitting participation of the Freemasons adds a layer of intrigue to the history of data visualization. Whether or not this theory is true, it serves as a reminder that even the most seemingly innocuous inventions can carry a hidden agenda, and that the pursuit of knowledge can sometimes be fraught with unexpected alliances, manipulation, and subterfuge.

NOTICE: Thanks for reading the story to here. This is, of course, all fake. To the best of my knowledge, the Catholic Church were not pulling the strings behind a collusion between William Playfair and the Freemasons to annoy statisticians. This was, as you might have guessed, generated using GPT4.

Stephen Redmond

Stephen Redmond, Big Data, AI & Data Viz Professional. MSc in Data Analytics. Qlik Luminary. Author and blogger. All opinions my own.