Monthly Archives: February 2014

On maps, b.s. and lies.

My favourite map (1794).

I love maps. More specifically, I love old erroneous maps. I collect them, and I have a total of four, the oldest one being from 1708. I am also currently enrolled in a geography/pedagogy program at the university of Oslo. What is interesting about this is that I know very little about geography, and I am almost completely unable to actually read a map. I much prefer wandering/driving around aimlessly till I accidentally stumble upon my destination. If I’m in a rush, I might ask someone, but I mostly do the “Oslo isn’t that big, I’m bound to hit it at some point”-approach.

In terms of geography, I’m pathetic. I once (in front of a whole class) pointed to South America while talking about Africa (the students have hearts of gold, so they just chuckled. I also suspect that they believe me to be a little slow, and therefore grant me extra leniency). In my defense, South America and Africa are pretty similar in shape if you squint.

Now, the reasons why I like old maps are many. For one, I love history and I love old things (I also collect fossils). The most important reason though, is that I love how people, when uncertain about something, will resort to bullshitting. Note the below map of Africa? Yeah, I’ts got a non-existent mountain range right from West-Africa to East-Africa, and looking at it never fails to crack me up :) I just love the thought of some cartographer, some 160 odd years ago, looking at the map he had just drawn and thinking to himself “it’s kinda bare eh? I know what this needs! a mountain-range! Lalalalalaaaa, a moooouuntain-range!”

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As such, it could be claimed that B.S and lies are a part of our shared history. And we all lie. Even babies lie! We don’t all lie maliciously, and some of us lie less than others, but the research is pretty conclusive; lies are part of the human experience and have probably always been so (“Does this fig-leaf make me look fat?”). Lies are told to enhance our self-esteem (this is the most frequent form of lying among men) and in an effort to not hurt feelings (most frequent among women).  You can see a great TED-talk on the topic of how to spot a liar here  I was going to make a point of how we still blindly believe some claims (even to the point of using them to deny others their human rights) but I have annoyed enough people today, so I am not going to get into the veracity of the various Holy Texts. I’ll save that for a day in which I feel like alienating about 50% of my friends and acquaintances.

On that note, here are some of my other maps:

This one is from 1794.

This is the whole view of the map seen above.

This one is from 1708.

This one is from 1708.

This one is from 1723.

And this one is from 1794.

And this one is from 1794.

Here’s a great link that perfectly illustrates how borders are anything but static over time: History of Europe- 6013 years in 3 minutes

(So..That nationalistic pride-silliness that many engage in is kinda mis-guided, no?).

Here’s a wonderful link covering maps that’ll tell you everything from population-density  to alcohol consumption across the world.

That’s all I’ve got. No clever sign off, no nothing, just maps and lies :)