We Have Been Misled By An Erroneous Map Of The World For 500 Years

It was featured in "The West Wing," but map dishonesty is anything but fictional. Check out this clip to get an accurate look at the size of Africa.

An accurate look at Africa relative to some major countries:

Transcript:
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C.J. Cregg: Hi, I'm sorry.

Dr. John Fallow: Hello.

C.J. Cregg: I'm sorry to be late.

Dr. John Fallow: Not a problem.

C.J. Cregg: I'm C.J. Cregg.

Dr. John Fallow: Of course, you are. I'm Dr. John Fallow. This is
Dr. Cynthia Sayles: and Professor Donald Huke:.

C.J. Cregg: Huke?

Professor Donald Huke:: Huke.

C.J. Cregg: OK. And you are the Organization of Cartographers for Social Equality.

Dr. John Fallow: Well, we're from the OCSE. We have many members.

C.J. Cregg: How many?

Dr. John Fallow: 4,300 dues-paying members.

C.J. Cregg: What are the dues?

Dr. John Fallow: Oh, $20 a year for the newsletter.

C.J. Cregg: Let's start.

Josh Lyman: Wait. Wait, I want to see this.

C.J. Cregg: This is Josh Lyman.

Dr. John Fallow: Indeed, you are.

C.J. Cregg: Josh, this is Dr. Fallow and his merry men.

Josh Lyman: Hi.

C.J. Cregg: Shall we begin?

Dr. John Fallow: Yes. Plain and simple, we'd like President Bartlett to aggressively support legislation that would make it mandatory for every public school in America to teach geography using the Peters projection map instead of the traditional Mercator.

Josh Lyman: Give me $200 bucks and it's done.

Dr. John Fallow: Really?

C.J. Cregg: No. Why are we changing maps?

Dr. Cynthia Sayles:: Because, C.J., the Mercator Projection has fostered European imperialist attitudes for centuries and created an ethnic bias against the Third World.

C.J. Cregg: Really?

Dr. John Fallow: The German cartographer, Mercator, originally designed this map in 1569, as a navigational tool for European sailors.

Professor Donald Huke:: The map enlarges areas at the poles to create straight lines of constant bearing or geographic direction.

Dr. Cynthia Sayles:: So it makes it easier to cross an ocean.

Dr. John Fallow: But . . .

C.J. Cregg: Yes?

Dr. John Fallow: . . . it distorts the relative size of nations and continents.

C.J. Cregg: Are you saying the map is wrong?

Dr. John Fallow: Oh dear, yes. Now, look at Greenland.

C.J. Cregg: Okay.

Dr. John Fallow: Now, look at Africa.

C.J. Cregg: Okay.

Dr. John Fallow: The two land masses appear to be roughly the same size.

C.J. Cregg: Yes.

Dr. John Fallow: Would it blow your mind if I told you that Africa is, in reality, 14 times larger?

C.J. Cregg: Yes.

Dr. Cynthia Sayles:: Here we have Europe drawn considerably larger than South America, when at 6.9 million square miles, South America is almost double the size of Europe's 3.8 million.

Professor Donald Huke:: Alaska appears three times as large as Mexico, when Mexico is larger by 0.1 million square miles.

Dr. Cynthia Sayles:: Germany appears in the middle of the map, when it's in the northernmost quarter of the earth.

Josh Lyman: Wait, wait. Relative size is one thing. But you're telling me that Germany isn't where we think it is?

Dr. John Fallow: Nothing is where you think it is.

C.J. Cregg: Where is it?

Dr. John Fallow: I'm glad you asked. The Peters Projection.

Dr. Cynthia Sayles:: It has fidelity of access.

Dr. John Fallow: Fidelity of position.

Dr. Cynthia Sayles:: East-west lines are parallel and intersect north-south axes at right angles.

C.J. Cregg: What the hell is that?

Dr. John Fallow: It's where you've been living this whole time. Should we continue?

C.J. Cregg: Uh-huh.

Dr. John Fallow: So you're probably wondering what all this has to do with social equality.

C.J. Cregg: No, I'm wondering where France really is.

Josh Lyman: Guys we want to thank you very much for coming in.

C.J. Cregg: Hang on. We're going to finish this.

Josh Lyman: OK.

Professor Donald Huke:: What do maps have to do with social equality, you asked?

Josh Lyman: She asked.

Professor Donald Huke:: Salvatore Natoli, of the National Council for Social Studies argues, "In our society, we unconsciously equate size with importance and even power."

Josh Lyman: I'm going to check in on Tommy.

C.J. Cregg: Go.

Josh Lyman: If these guys find Brigadoon on that map, you'll call me, right?

C.J. Cregg: Probably not.

Josh Lyman: OK.

Dr. John Fallow: And Third World countries are misrepresented. They're likely to be valued less when Mercator maps exaggerate the importance of Western Civilization. When the top of the map is given to the Northern Hemisphere and the bottom is given to the Southern, then people will tend to adopt top and bottom attitudes.

C.J. Cregg: But wait, where else could you put the Northern Hemisphere but on the top?

Dr. Cynthia Sayles:: On the bottom.

C.J. Cregg: How?

Dr. John Fallow: Like this.

C.J. Cregg: Yeah, but you can't do that.

Dr. John Fallow: Why not?

C.J. Cregg: Because it's freaking me out.

There may be small errors in this transcript.
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ORIGINAL MAP: By Kai Krause. Found on Dynamic Diagrams. "West Wing" clip uploaded by YouTube User uncyjugs.

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