Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Mark Monmonier, author of 'How to Lie With Maps', talks about Sharpiegate

At this point I assume you've all heard of 'Sharpiegate': Trump illegally manipulated an official forecast map to “prove” that he was right when he tweeted on September 1st that hurricane Dorian was about to hit Alabama “(much) harder than anticipated”. Well, he wasn't right. He should have issued a correction right away.

Rather, he doubled, tripledquadrupled, and quintupled down, sometimes using maps I doubt he can interpret properly.

What could have been just a misunderstanding has derived into a scandal that threatens to undermine the credibility of agencies lives depend on. That's serious, and we all ought to be concerned regardless of ideological leanings.

Anyway, Mark Monmonier has chimed in. If you've never heard of Monmonier you have homework to do. He's the author of books such as Cartographies of Danger, Mapping it Out, or Rhumb Lines and Map Wars, a favorite of mine that I'd recommend to those who keep insisting that the Mercator projection is a “bad projection”—it's not, as I've said before.

Monmonier's most popular book is How to Lie With Maps, an absolute classic now in its 3rd edition. Needless to say, it was an inspiration for How Charts Lie. It's one of the best intros to cartography I've ever read.

All this is a preamble to say: please don't miss the interview. This is a quote that captures Monmonier's indignation: “This guy shows absolutely no subtlety at all. And then people try to make excuses for him. I have never seen anything like this.”

I fear we'll see even worse.