Yesterday, The Guardian, a left of centre British newspaper which boasts the third-most visited news website in the world, published this particularly egregious piece of junk education under its rubric US Education – in this case, an oxymoron:
Boston public schools map switch aims to amend 500 years of distortion
A district will drop the Mercator projection, which physically diminished Africa and South America, for the Peters, which cut the developed world down to size
The problem, of course, arises from the impossibility of representing the Earth’s curved surface on flat paper. The wrinkled wrapping around an orange or an apple illustrates the difficulty.
The Mercator projection, the article rightly tells us, magnifies Europe, Greenland and north America out of all proportion to their actual size, while diminishing the “global south” – especially Africa and Latin America.
This, claims the article, engenders “Eurocentrism.” The now standard exposition is of course in The West Wing.
Apparently neither The Guardian, nor Boston’s “educators” are aware that the solution to this “problem” was invented by the nasty “Eurocentric” Greeks 2,300 years ago.
It’s called a globe, and I had one in my bedroom as a 5-6 year old in the early 1960s.
A geography book I had around at the same age correctly stated that Europe was an Asian peninsula.
Our primary school geography classroom had a globe, and we were taught about the different projections used in the school atlases.
My first edition of The Times Atlas of World History published to great acclaim in 1978 and translated into Chinese among other languages, was edited by Geoffrey Barraclough, Chichele Professor of History at Oxford University and used a wide variety of projections to highlight various historical developments. Mecca, for example, was placed at the centre of its map on Islamic imperial, military and religious expansion into Africa, Europe and Asia to reflect the view of 7-8th century AD Arabs.
This photo from The Times Atlas of World History depicting migration patterns in recent centuries shows Europe as tiny, but central since it was the source of most migration:
http://www.1001inventions.com/maps – a site celebrating Muslim inventions, but which includes the Koran map!
The screenshot below showing that Africa is some three times the size of USA comes from a 1984 documentary by the late Basil Davidson, a well-known British Africa expert. The above-mentioned Geoffrey Barraclough was the historical advisor on the series:
Screenshot: The World: A Television History #15 Africa Before The Europeans. From 3:55 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaoyqZn1ELI&app=desktop
So much for Boston’s claims of Western propaganda in cartography.
The West has in fact put in plenty of effort to inform people, but Boston’s badly-educated, unthinking and obtuse administrators and teachers know nothing of this – despite the fact that their best-known local newspaper, with 26 Pulitzer Prizes, is called The Boston Globe!
Good atlases contain a variety of projections – including those with gores to show the truer projection used in globes.
In contrast to the claims of The Guardian and Boston illiterates, mediaeval and 19th century Europeans were well – and properly – educated people who knew perfectly well that Europe, the Americas and Greenland were much smaller than Africa and Asia:
Gores of Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 globe of the world, the first to use the name “America” and showing a Europe much smaller than Africa.
Source: Wikipedia Commons
During the Victorian era, the Europeans called Africa the Dark Continent, an epithet that the badly educated falsely believe is racist, because the interior was barely known.
Africa’s huge size and difficult interior made it difficult to explore for the indigenous people.
Africa is the hottest continent on earth, with 60% of the entire land surface consisting of drylands and deserts. The river Niger, for example, is Africa’s third-longest, but half of its length flows through arid areas and the aridity of the long Skeleton Coast of Namibia and south Angola, a fact which hampered European ships attempting to circumnavigate the continent – and, once again, Africa’s indigenous development.
These geographical problems are compounded by disease, hampering trade and thus wealth in sub-Saharan Africa centuries before the Arabs and then the Europeans arrived.
These basic geographical facts completely escape Marxists and the politically correct in Boston.
Wikipedia map of Africa
By Martin23230 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
As anyone knows who has picked up atlases from other country, foreign atlases put their own countries first.
Classical and mediaeval Europeans, the Arabs, the Chinese and the Koreans tended to use different projections emphasising what they knew – which was of course usually what was closest. As a result, their maps ?????
How odd that, yet again, that the nasty Eurocentric Jesuits had to tell the Chinese that the Earth was round after Greeks had suspected that was the case from the 6th century BC, Aristotle had realised that it was spherical because he observed that when a ship was coming over the horizon, its mast appeared first, followed by the rest of the vessel, and Greeks observed the Earth’s round shadow on the moon during lunar eclipses.
Later, Eratosthenes famously measured the Earth’s circumference to within 10-15% of the real value in the 3rd century BC, and much later still Isaac Newton correctly forecast that the Earth was an oblate spheroid.
Columbus used the Arabic mile rather than the shorter Roman mile, so he greatly underestimated the Earth’s circumference and thought he had reached the Indies, or South and South-East Asia, when he fact landed in the Caribbean.
Historians speculate that had Columbus known the real distance, he might never have set sail at all, but he still knew that the Earth was round, as had every educated European since Aristotle. Exploiting what came to be known as the trade winds, Columbus risked venturing out into the unknown Atlantic in tiny ships.
So much for The Needham Question and Europe’s putative backwardness.
Typically, The Guardian article also fails to ask how the Europeans were able to make such accurate maps in the first place, discover the Americas, circumnavigate the Earth – and become the richest part of the planet? It just assumes it’s all down to imperialism, colonialism and capitalism, nothing but exploitation.
The Guardian, however, is by no means the only publication to write geographical absurdities.
In a 2013 article, Business Insider claims that
Despite its benefits, the Mercator projection drastically distorts the size and shape of objects approaching the poles. This may be the reason people have no idea how big some places really are.
This is nonsense. People have no idea how big some places really are because they have not been taught properly and their parents, their schools and, God forbid, their universities have fallen down on the job.
In fact, even a globe is not necessary – pictures of a globe or photos from space make it all very clear.
This flat picture of the globe from the home page of the Africa Alumni Network of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where President Donald J. Trump of the United States took his economics degree, shows that Europe and Greenland are much smaller than Africa.
In short, it’s all so very simple. Anyone wishing to find out about geography can now look it up on the Internet, just as earlier generations looked things up in books.
The tragedy and the scandal is that generations of school kids have now been taught by the badly educated and have been held back all their lives as a result.
The UK government now wants to reintroduce selective schools, which The Guardian opposes, arguing that they favour already privileged middle-class children with ambitious and educated parents at the expense of working class kids, discourage social mobility and condemn those who fail to pass the so-called 11+ to enter selective school to see themselves as failures.
Even if that is all true, whoever, The Guardian is far too obtuse to see the irony of condemning every child to the kind of ideologically-driven and anti-Western junk education it supports in this article.
No wonder sensible parents make an effort with their own children and the better-off send them to decent schools.
Boston’s children, like kids everywhere, deserve much better than this kind of politically correct drivel.
Instead of wasting money on dumping perfectly good atlases, it needs to buy proper teaching aids, such as globes, sack its teachers, “educators” and administrators on the spot and get in proper teachers worthy of the name who bring geography alive, such as these at
And who knows, if Boston did buy globes, the kids could learn about the Earth’s 23° tilt and the seasons – and maybe even about precession, plate tectonics, the Milankovitch cycles and the Ice Ages. Now that would be really be something.