The World Map You’ve Been Taught Is Wrong - Caleb Jones

The standard world map that you were taught to learn in high school, the one up on every classroom in the universe, and perhaps the one on your wall (I have a world map on my office wall) is wrong.

It’s not completely wrong, but it’s wrong.

It’s wrong because it’s a two dimensional representation of a three-dimensional globular object. This means that the relative sizes of the continents and countries on your typical world map are all radically skewed. As just a few examples, looking at a typical world map, it shows that Greenland is almost as big as Africa, and that Russia, Canada, and Antarctica are hugely massive.

And it’s all wrong.

In reality, Africa is huge, bigger than all of North America. Antarctica is only as big as Australia. Russia is nowhere as big as most people think it is.

The closest and most accurate representation of what the world actually looks like is the image at the top of this article. (A larger version is here.) Countries and continents nearer to the equator are actually much larger than you think (Brazil is gigantic and Africa is shockingly huge), and those closer towards the poles are much smaller than you think (Alaska is much smaller than how it appears on a typical map).

If you want to see how certain country’s sizes actually compare to others, go to this web site where you can actually drag countries over others and it will show you their real, relative size.

The reason I point this out to you is to demonstrate yet another way in which Societal Programming fills you with false information, starting all the way from childhood. Sometimes, SP isn’t about various factions of the elites brainwashing you. Sometimes it’s just as simple as science being inaccurate or difficult to explain/represent to children or typical laymen.

While I have the “wrong” version of the world map up on my wall in my office, and I use it often, I also refer to this true world map semi-regularly when planning my travel. As always, I try to keep as close to objective reality as I can to ensure a minimum amount of problems or surprises in the future. I strongly suggest you do the same, not just about this dumb map, but about everything.

18 Comments on “The World Map You’ve Been Taught Is Wrong

  1. I thought this was already common sense. Since we all know that the world is a sphere it’s obvious that a 2D map has to be spread out at the top and the bottom in order to fit into a rectangle.

    I think the map you showed is even more confusing. The sizes of the countries and continents are more accurate, but some of the proportions are weird. Look at Brazil which is way too pointy. And the longitudes and latitudes are a complete mess. Northpole is completely missing as well.

    The common rectangular map isn’t perfect but it is at least ordered. A map like this would be more accurate. It’s still far from perfect since the poles are still way too broad, but at least they’re not as broad as the equator so the gigantism of Greenland and Antarctica is not as bad (still bad though).

    The best version is still a 3D animation like Google Maps or a real globe in the room (which I think is a great looking item in a room.)

  2. Antarctica is only as big as Australia. Russia is nowhere as big as most people think it is.

    I get the idea but this bit is inaccurate. Australia is 7.7 million km2 while Antarctica is almost twice that, 14 Mkm2. I don’t know how big people think Russia is, but it’s almost twice Canada or the US (the latter being 9.98 and 9.83 while Russia is a whopping 17.1).

    Even as a non-westerner I’ve always disliked the idea that this is some conspiracy to make southern states look smaller (I’ve seen people from my country buy this, not just western SJW types), you’re probably right and much of this is accidental SP / byproduct of inaccurate science.

  3. People are too used to the Mercator map and every other representation just feels weird even though they could be more “fair” with the actual sizes.

  4. What you really need to wonder is WHY they would do that..

    This was obviously not an accident.

  5. What you really need to wonder is WHY they would do that..

    Because any rectangular map of the world is unavoidably distorted. I think no-one needs a topological proof to grasp the fact a sphere is not quite like a rectangle. You might want a projection where equal areas look equal, or where shortest paths are straight lines, or where angles between lines are conserved, but those requirements are incompatible.

    Among non-weird projections, oval maps have the least amount of distortion, like this one: http://mapsof.net/the-world/political-world-map-2012

    That’s not to say politics can’t be involved. Russians, for example, very much like the fact that the commonly used Mercator projection makes that vast country seem even more enormous, so it’s understandable if they pick that option even when something else would more scientifically accurate.

  6. And hardly anything, apart from a globe, makes it apparent that the shortest path from Singapore to Dallas lies over Anchorage : )

  7. That’s not to say politics can’t be involved. Russians, for example, very much like the fact that the commonly used Mercator projection makes that vast country seem even more enormous, so it’s understandable if they pick that option even when something else would more scientifically accurate.

    There is certainly a nonzero chance that SP/politics/the elites encouraged the use of the Mercator map in schools for their own reasons, in addition to the science being lazy. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised.

  8. It’s wrong because it’s a two dimensional representation of a three-dimensional globular object.

    So you’re refusing that the world is flat? The world is flat, I have proooooof!!!
    jk jk, lol. Just had to get that in there.

    Funny that I’ve been pointing that kind of stuff out since I was young. I’d compare world maps to globes and I’d be like “why are certain things smaller on the globe than on the map?” Never got a legit answer to that…

  9. While I have the “wrong” version of the world map up on my wall in my office, and I use it often, I also refer to this trueworld map semi-regularly when planning my travel.

    So how exactly does this true world map help you plan your traveling in a way that a regular map wouldn’t?

    Last time I checked, when people travel internationally they just fly to the most touristic cities. The flight schedule already tells them how long they flight will take and all that.

    Is not like people decide to travel all across africa by land and then realize “oh, based on the traditional map, I thought it would take the same as traveling all across russia by land, but it actually took longer!!! GRRRR I HAVE BEEN LIED TO!!!!!!”

  10. So how exactly does this true world map help you plan your traveling in a way that a regular map wouldn’t?

    It’s not significant. I just like to see the true distances for flights.

    Last time I checked, when people travel internationally they just fly to the most touristic cities. The flight schedule already tells them how long they flight will take and all that.

    Yes but I want to know why the flight times are different between certain cities. Again, this is but one little piece in an overall habit-set I want to have of always looking at the real world rather than the false SP world, in all things, not just the globe.

  11. Let’s play a little game : ) Without looking at a map, obviously.

    1. Which US state is closest to Africa?

    2. If you took a flight directly southwards from Key West in Florida in the US, which country in South America would you encounter first?

    3. Which is bigger, Africa or Russian Federation, and by what factor?

    4. Order these cities from southernmost to northernmost: Algiers (Algeria), Halifax (Canada), Tokyo (Japan), Venice (Italy).

    5. What are two points in the United States furthest from each other?

    What’s your score? Answers at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y17ybnO5pS8

  12. It kind of scary when you think of the size of the different countries and continents, you realize that the more productive is in the smaller than first thought.

     

    Can you do at sometime in the future a world population of each major country or just continent vs the productive. It would be interesting to see how much of the world is held up by a few.

  13. Its true that people often forget about this especially when flying. I often read or hear comments about people not understanding why certain flight is only x hours whereas some other flight y hours. Whats more is that people often dont understand why if you take a flight route that looks like a detour on a 2D map is actually a shorter flight. What worries me is that some of those questions were from pilots.

  14. The Mercator map is like it is because compass headings are preserved on it. If you travel exactly northwest by the pole star, this is a straight line on the Mercator map. So sea navigation without a GPS system is much more straightforward – you draw straight lines on the map and follow those headings.

    The Mercator map projects the north and south pole off to infinity to the top and bottom. It seems odd, but if you follow a mathematically ideal northwest heading, what will happen is that you will spiral around into the north pole without ever actually reaching it.

    It’s not some conspiracy. The map was perfectly adequate for the purposes for which it was intended.

  15. Brazil is gigantic 

    A flight from São Paulo to Manaus, on the brazilian side of the amazon forest, takes about the same time as as a flight to Santiago, which is on the other side of the continent!!!

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