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    Cartographic Propaganda

    November 2, 2013 by Brandy Vencel

    I wasn’t going to write anything today. I wasn’t going to write anything for a week. Maybe longer! But I haven’t done a sarcastic political piece in a while, and frankly, this is driving me nuts. Really? We’re going to take our map cues from a television show?
    Cartographic Propaganda
    This is the webpage that seems to be going viral, and in it is embedded this video {below} if you don’t want to jump over.

    There is a verse which comes to mind here:

    The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.
    {Pr. 18:17}

    If you watched the clip and felt like your whole world was rocked and why, oh why, haven’t I heard this before, you need to wonder if, perhaps, there is a reason.

    In this case…

    The old Mercator map was not an “erroneous” map. People utilized it for safe navigation for half a millenia. The map had a purpose and its purpose was navigation. No one cared about its political implications because, when you’re sailing, not getting shipwrecked is slightly more important than how big Africa might be compared to Greenland.

    The “new” map they are promoting here has a different purpose, and that is to reveal land mass size, and to possibly right all wrongs. If we could just change the map, sin would disappear, right? Ah, Utopia.

    Here’s the deal:

    Any time we try and take something spherical and represent it on a flat surface, there will be distortion.

    Personally, I often prefer the old map because it gives true compass bearings between any two points. When I’m reading an old book — such as the one I’m reading now by David Livingstone — the only way I can track his journey is to look it up on a map with accurate bearings and find his position {he gives longitude and latitude points throughout his book}.
    That is the primary purpose of a map, after all: to be able to get from point A to point B, or to be able to find Points A and B in the first place.
    If you read a critique of the Peters Projection Map you’ll find that that map may accurately show land mass size, but it does NOT accurately show land mass shape. So it still isn’t accurate. The best thing to do, if we are worried about this kind of accuracy, is to simply use…wait for it…
    wait for it…
    And my guess is that public school children have had access to globes all this time. There isn’t some big conspiracy on the part of Western nations to make Africa look smallish.

    Robinson Projection Map,
    courtesy of Wikipedia

    By the way, there is a third kind of map, called a Robinson Projection. That is what I have on my wall, and you might, too. It is very popular these days. It is the one that makes the earth appear like an oval, but in general it tends to be more visually accurate than either of the two maps in the West Wing clip.

    Check it out! Africa is not only bigger than Greenland; it’s in the middle. So naturally, we now all realize its importance.

    I’m in the mood for a U2 concert just thinking about it.


    Next time someone tells you that, in the name of social justice or whatever, you simply must buy a Peterson Projection map {which is about as aesthetically deficient as a map can get}, remind them that the Mercator map as been unfashionable for years, and Rand McNally has used only the Robinson Projection since the late 60s.
    In other words, tell them to do their research.

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  • Reply Mahers Hill Academy November 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm

    Interesting. Hubby came across the Peterson projection map a few months ago, and showed it to the kids and I. While we liked the fact that the continents’ sizes were more accurate, I have to agree with you that it isn’t very visually appealing. We’ve got a Rand McNally map on the wall, but I’m thinking a globe might be a good investment as well. Do you have one you like?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel November 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      I love my globe, but it is ancient. It was my dad’s and when he decided he didn’t want it anymore, he gave it to me. So I have no. idea. where you could get one like it. It is supposed to be accurate, but what I also like about it is that it is sepia toned rather than really bright colors…looks better in my living room. 🙂

  • Reply livingstonesacademy November 2, 2013 at 2:07 pm

    Actually watching the clip made me laugh out loud because I remember liking that episode and thinking those map guys were insane. LOL But I had no idea there were people that seriously thought this way. THAT’S disturbing. And the lack of any information, discussion, thought, evidence, etc on that web link, yet you say it’s going viral .. .well, that just gives us all more incentive to effectively educate our children in how to think discerningly, doesn’t it? Sheep. All sheep.

  • Reply walking November 2, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Anyone who understands mathematics knew this all along. How about social justice in the form of inspiring kids to think for themselves so their minds are not blown by hype?

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