001 - Perception?

Factual Question

What factors influence how we view the world?

"...much of what passes for common sense consists of little more than vague and untested beliefs that are based on such things as prejudice, hearsay and blind appeals to authority." Richard van de Lagemaat, 2008

Activity One - Draw

Thank you Matt Podbury from www.geographypods.com for this lesson. 

You are going to be working in teams of two and three for this activity. 

Stage One - Draw

Stage Two - Label

Useful Resource

A Sketch Map of the World
Maps of the World

Activity Two - Pair

Your team is now going to be buddied up with another team to share with each other what you have drawn and added to your map. It is absolutely fine to have drawn the world map with different accuracies as this is all to do with how we personally view the world. 

Activity Three - Share

You have now had time to discuss your individual team's map with another group. We are now going to share your findings with the larger group. The following questions will be used to help to structure the discussion.

Stage One - Discuss

Stage Two - Write

Useful Resources

'Theory of Knowledge for the IB Diploma' text book by Richard van de Lagemaat. Pages 8-16

Theory of Knowledge Google Site 

Activity Four - Watch

So now we have discussed our different perspectives on how we view the world and what influences us we are now going to look at the basic difficulties of how to draw an 'accurate' map of the world. 

Activity Five - Paradox of Cartography

We are now going to explore a very limit amount of maps that have been developed through our history. Be awed by how amazingly artistic and imaginative our maps are and continue to be. 

'If a map is to be useful, then it must be of necessity be imperfect.' Richard van de Lagemaat, 2008

"Mercator is used for navigation or maps of equatorial regions. Any straight line between two points is a true line of constant direction, but not usually the shortest distance between the two points. Distances are true only along the equator, but are reasonably correct within 15° either side. Areas and shapes of large areas are distorted. Distortion increases away from the equator and is extreme in polar regions (Greenland appears larger than Africa but is actually 14 times smaller). Parallels and meridians are straight lines which meet at right angles. Meridians are equally spaced but parallels are stretched towards the poles. Poles are not shown."

Taken from 'The Guardian' 2009

"Peters is an equal-area projection which became the centrepiece of a controversy surrounding the political implications of map design. The argument goes something like this: Mercator inflates the sizes of regions as they gain distance from the equator. Since much of the developing world lies near the equator, these countries appear smaller and less significant. On Peters's projection, by contrast, areas of equal size on the globe are also equally sized on the map so poorer, less powerful nations could be restored to their rightful proportions."

Taken from 'The Guardian' 2009

"An alternative is to place the North Pole in the centre. It is strangely disorienting to gaze on the world from a polar perspective. The lower hemisphere should be hidden from view by the curve of the Earth because you can only see half a sphere at a time.

But on the azimuthal polar projection from the north, the southern hemisphere has been pulled into view on the page, with the consequence that Antarctica centrifuges into a doughnut around the edge of the circular map. This highlights the disadvantage of the projection as it distorts both the area and shape of landmasses, but distances from the North Pole are accurate in all directions, with those further from the centre becoming more enlarged on their east-west axis."

Source: extract from "Five maps that will change how you see the world." by Donald Houston

North is up, right? Only by convention. There’s no scientific reason why north is any more up than south. Equally, we could do east-up, west-up or any other compass bearing. Purposefully reversing the typical way world maps are drawn has a similar political effect to using the Peters projection, putting more developing countries in the generally poorer southern hemisphere at the top of the map and so giving them greater significance."

Source: extract from "Five maps that will change how you see the world." by Donald Houston

by Jesse Levine

“Only in recent decades have alternative views of the globe made their way into maps. In 1974, Arno Peters offered a projection […] that corrected Gerardus Mercator’s 1569 map of the world […], which placed the Equator deep in the bottom half of the map, thus distorting the size of the Northern Hemisphere. In 1982, Jesse Levine created a 'turnabout map' of the Western Hemisphere, with its view from the south.”

Source: extract from “Americas: The Changing Face of Latin America and the Caribbean”, by Peter Winn

"Another convention of world maps is that they are centred on the prime meridian, or zero degrees longitude (east-west). But this is scientifically arbitrary, deriving from the location of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London. The result is that Europe (although also Africa) is in the centre of the conventional world map – a rather colonial perspective. The familiar meridian-centred map conveniently places the map edges down the middle of the Pacific Ocean so no continent is chopped in two. But maps centred on the Pacific Ocean also work well because the edges of the map conveniently run down the middle of the Atlantic. This places east Asia in a more prominent position and pushes Europe to the edge. "

Source: extract from "Five maps that will change how you see the world." by Donald Houston